Have you ever seen a capybara up close? How about a toucan?
You can spot both at SeaQuest in Lynchburg: In fact, on a good day, you might even be able to see a wallaby walking around in a bowtie.
We promise, your eyes will not be deceiving you. Joey the wallaby, or Joseph, as SeaQuest’s mammal manager lovingly calls him, is harness-trained -- meaning once he’s cleared by a vet, he’ll be allowed to walk around the aquarium, as several animals are known to do. The bowtie gives his look a special touch.
“He’s a ham,” mammal manager Alicia DeMay said with a laugh.
Featuring these unique animals in such an interactive way is all a part of the aquarium’s mission: To bring people closer to, and show off, the majestic wonders of our planet. Guests are encouraged to connect with animals and learn about their ecosystems through various hands-on activities.
At SeaQuest, you can see animals from land to sea. Here, let’s introduce you to 10 of the friends you might run into at the Lynchburg location.
Princess Poppy: A capybara
Born in May, Poppy is now more than 4 months old.
Capybaras are extremely smart. People with visual impairment have even used seeing-eye capybaras, just like you would utilize a seeing-eye dog, DeMay said.
It’s almost like a massive guinea pig, DeMay added, reminding us that a capybara is the world’s largest rodent.
Fun fact: They can stay under water for up to five minutes at a time. Their bodies were designed for it. A capybara’s ears, eyes and snout are on top of the head, kind of like an alligator, DeMay said. They’re excellent swimmers and have webbed feet, and only urinate or defecate in the water; not on land.
Joey, Kanga and Roo: The wallabies
Wallabies are in the same family as kangaroos. They’re similar, but wallabies are smaller. The tallest a wallaby might grow would be to about the 41-inch mark.
Joey, Kanga and Roo have “fantastic personalities,” DeMay said.
These three are close in age, just a month or so apart, but they have different mothers. Joey is the oldest, Kanga is in the middle and Roo is the youngest.
“Roo is the one who’s the most independent,” said DeMay, adding that she’s started to wean off bottles quicker than her brother and sister.
Chandler: A Patagonian cavy
SeaQuest Lynchburg actually has two of these: Ross and Chandler. Chandler is who you see above. They mate for life, so it’s important for a cavy to have a companion.
Ross is a boy and he’s a little older than 1 year, while Chandler is a baby, seeing as she was just born in June.
They’re both harness-trained, although Ross is a little more used to it than Chandler, DeMay said.
“They’re both out with us when we feed everyone else,” she added.
Jabba, a Red Argentine Tegu
You might be able to guess how Jabba got his name: Because he looks like Jabba the Hutt from “Star Wars," of course, bird and reptile manager Jennifer Songer said.
Jabba hails from the western region of South America.
“Tegus are super intelligent animals,” Songer said. “Some can pick up on their names (and) come when they’re called.”
They’re also very sweet, she added. Some people even keep these lizards as house pets.
Another fun fact: The tegu is monogamous, so once you create a bond, it’s never broken, Songer said.
Domino, a black and white Tegu
Domino, a 3-year-old female, is similar to Jabba, but she’s from a different region. You might notice she has smaller jowls. That’s because the males tend to have bigger jowls. And of course, her coloring is not the same as Jabba’s. She too is very intelligent.
Jagger, a lorikeet
Jagger is almost 2 years old, and these birds tend to reach their sexual maturity at about this age, so he’s known to exhibit a lot of protective behaviors. Birds can be particular about their trainers, and tend to work better with the opposite sex, Songer said.
Fun fact: These guys are nectar-eaters, and have small bristles on the ends of their tongues called papillae -- which is almost like a tiny hair -- that helps them get to the food.
Tooky, a toucan
Tooky is one of the younger birds at SeaQuest, and is about 18 months.
She’s really playful and loves tug of war, Songer said.
Toucans will sometimes use their long bills as tools to play with. They’re good catchers, too. You can toss blueberries to Tooky at the aquarium and she’ll probably catch them.
Kon Kon, a kookaburra
This 3-year-old male is known for his loud laughs, which the SeaQuest staff adores.
He just might laugh if you roll your tongue.
They mainly call out to mark their territory, but Kon Kon will do it if he’s excited, too.
He loves loud noises: Like the sound of a vacuum, and he enjoys interacting with people.
Songer said Kon Kon will even do a special call when he’s accepting people into his territory, which they love hearing throughout the day.
So, whose exhibit would you check out first? Did you have any idea SeaQuest housed these unique animals?
For more information on visiting or tickets, click or tap here.