Move over, furry animals. Feathers, flippers, and fins are just as cute, or even cuter! See for yourself at the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park on Okaloosa Island, Florida.
Home to smiling dolphins, waddling penguins, and exotic fish, the park also works to rehabilitate and release injured animals back into the wild.
In 2015, the Gulfarium’s C.A.R.E. Center was developed as a non-profit to facilitate and further our continued coastal conservation efforts. Their specialty is sea turtles. The program has helped to rehabilitate and release various species of sea turtles found in the Gulf Coast, from the Loggerhead, Green, Kemp’s ridley, to the Leatherback. Over the years hundreds of sea turtles have been rehabilitated and released back into the wild by the Gulfarium.
Sometimes, though, animals are safer and happier staying put, plus they have housekeepers, personal chefs, and thousands of fans! If you’re looking for things to do on Okaloosa Island, FL, check out the cutest rescued animals at the park.
Like Crush in the “Finding Nemo” movie, Floater is a laid-back sea turtle with a sleepy smile. The loggerhead hangs out at the Gulfarium because it’s hard for her to dive for food or escape predators. She was hit by a boat propeller in 1998, and as her shell healed, a pocket of air became trapped underneath. All seven species of sea turtles are endangered.
Rook + Rory
With their whiskers, playfulness, and loud “barks,” these California sea lions are a comedy pair to watch. They were stranded off the coast of California, rescued and rehabilitated, but lack some survival skills. They found a home at the Gulfarium in 2018. The park has daily sea lion shows and offers a “Discover Sea Lions” encounter where guests can get up close and personal.
Check out his dance moves! This yellow-crested cockatoo has some smooth ones, bobbing up and down and tilting his head from side to side. You’ll catch some funny videos featuring this character on the Internet. He’s been greeting people to the park’s bird sanctuary since 1993 with a hearty “Hello!” His previous owners were unable to care for him. Yellow-crested cockatoos are a critically endangered species.
Becky and Toto
Did you know that not all species of penguins live in snow or ice? Although all penguin species are native to the Southern Hemisphere, most do not live in Antarctica, like Becky and Toto! They are African penguins, which live in colonies on the beaches of Southern Africa. Becky hatched in December 2016 and quickly became a popular member of the Gulfarium family. Toto hatched in 2018 and recently completed his first molt, meaning he shed his juvenile feathers and is now sporting his tuxedo-style, black and white adult feathers.
African penguins are considered endangered and the Gulfarium is working hard to raise awareness and protect this cuddly species.