Team Terrier

August 28, 1954 to February 11, 1987

Once upon a time on the Palos Verdes Peninsula of California, there was a wonderful place called Marineland. I discovered Marineland when we moved into the area in 1982. My husband Michael was working 7 on 3 off rotating shifts. There were many weekends I had to find something quiet to do - Marineland was the answer. I fell in love with the place and soon I was going every weekend.

In the animal care center there was a young walrus - Georgie Girl. She had been discovered abandoned as a pup and brought to the Marineland Care Center. There she was bottled raised. The picture to the left is Georgie Girl in her "baby pool". I would spend hours watching her and playing with her.
A game she liked was "hide and seek". You can see the pool had walls about waist high. I'd duck down and she'd swim along looking over the side for me. Often when she found me she'd squirt water on me. I soon learned to carry a towel or two with me!

Another game she liked to play was "tug-of-war". She had a car tire she'd put around her neck and bring over to you. She wanted you tug on it trying to take it from her. Once you got it (she let you have it) you were expected to toss it back across the pool for her to "fetch". She'd swim after it, put her head through, bring it back, and start another round of play. I'm the lady with curly hair in the blue shirt waiting my turn to play.

When Georgie Girl got too big for the little pool in the care center, she moved into the main park. A while later Blue moved in. Blue was also found stranded as a pup. Blue would suck his flipper just like a human baby sometimes sucks a thumb. Every visit I would split my time between Blue and Georgie Girl because by now walruses were my favorite animal in the park.

Georgie Girl was quite the climber. This sometimes got her into trouble. Here you see her with her back flipper on the deck, stretched across with her front flippers on the wall. Sometime she'd do this and push on the gate. I'm told once she broke the catch on the gate and got out. Park employees found her wandering the park when they came to work!

Georgie Girl had lots of toys in this pool. Frisbees, rope floats, tires, bucket lids, almost anything was a toy to her. She also shared the pool with a group of Harbor Seals. These she usually ignored.

When Blue got a little bigger he was moved into the pool with Georgie Girl. For a couple weeks they kinda checked each other out. Each was use to being king or queen of their own pool - but soon they were good friends.

Georgie Girl and Blue continued to grow. To keep them from getting bored, the handlers began training them. They learned to blow kisses, hide their eyes with their flippers, wave, play patty-cake and squirt water on que. Some people are against training animals to do "tricks" - but I think they enjoyed these sessions. It kept them stimulated. It wasn't a "real" show but they always drew a big crowd when they went through their routine. They both loved people to interact with them.

When they were in the mood, Georgie Girl and Blue could stand along the side of the pool and let people pet them. Often folks were shy at first - but once they saw how friendly these two were everyone wanted a turn to pet them. If you've ever wondered what a walrus feels like, they have short stiff fur and the face bristles are not sharp. They do have teeth but the teeth are set inside the mouth in a way that they can't bite you. Both males and females grow tusks and you can just see Georgie Girl's in some pictures. You just had to be careful that Georgie Girl didn't put her flipper through the bars and step on you! Sometime they would bring over toys to play with and sometimes they would squirt you with water! Many people were caught off guard when they would lean down to pet one of them only to get a face full of water. That always got a big laugh from the crowd and just encouraged them to do it again.

Georgie and Blue Of course there were several shows and lots of other things to do at Marineland. Orky and Corky starred in the "Killer Whale" show. Bubbles starred in the pilot whale show. There was also a dolphin show, a sea lion show, and a high dive show, a dolphin petting pool, a beautiful 34 aquarium exhibit of fish from around the world, penguins, pelicans, sharks and a swim through "Baja" reef. If you were there at the right time of year, you could watch gray whales go by right off the point. When Georgie Girl and Blue would climb up on the deck to lay in the sun and nap - I'd visit the adult walruses, care center or dolphin petting pool.

If you look real close, you can see that Georgie Girl has blue eyes!

This all came to an abrupt end in early 1987 when Marineland was purchased by HBJ, the owners of the Sea World Parks. (Sea World Parks are now owned by Anheuser-Busch, Inc) They closed the park and distributed the animals throughout their parks. Georgie Girl and Blue went to Sea World, FL. Georgie Girl was there about a year, then she went to Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma, WA. We visited her there once a year until she moved back to Sea World, FL in 1990 or 1991. To the best of my knowledge she is still there but they call her Gwen. So if you see a blue eyed walrus named Gwen - it might really be my Georgie Girl!


This page swam onto the web 12 August 2000

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