MYSTIC, Conn. (WTNH) — Mystic Aquarium may be closed to the public during the coronavirus outbreak, but there is still a lot of activity going on inside. Animals and staff at the aquarium got a special visitor Wednesday in UConn’s Jonathan the Husky.
The barking Sea Lions certainly got his attention. From that exhibit to the African Penguins it was all pretty entertaining for the UConn Husky who’s been the school’s mascot since the Fall of 2014 and is part of the Alpha Phi Omega service learning fraternity.
“For him to be here and just to hang out and do something different is awesome,” said Alisa Geller who is the adviser to Alpha Phi Omega whose members take care of Jonathan while school is in session.
Jonathan also got to meet Natasha and Juno, the Beluga Whales, who seemed a little more interested in him than he did in them.
“He’s a pretty mellow guy; he was chosen for a reason,” explained Geller. “He really doesn’t care. He loves crowds.”
Great qualities for a mascot who is used to seeing a lot of people each day. In fact, so are the Belugas.
“They get a lot of enrichment out of seeing different faces…so having Jonathan here and being able to enrich Jonathan and let him have a good day while everyone is practicing social-distancing is really important,”said Laurie Macha, Mystic Aquarium’s curator of mammals and birds.
After sanitizing their hands before and after, some of the staff – a few of whom are UConn alums – took a break to meet Jonathan.
One alum, Laurie Macha, says she had never met Jonathan when she was a student but was so glad she got the opportunity with his visit.
A special day and a special visit.
“If we can bring just a little joy to others that’s another reason why we’re doing it,” said Geller.
Jonathan also enjoyed the visit.
“He misses the students,” said Geller. “He misses the interaction and – to be honest – he misses the Dairy Bar vanilla ice cream, as well.”