Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sealed with a kiss

Bedford children’s librarians Sharon McDonald and Nancy Tegeler came to the Aquarium today to bring Chacoda the harbor seal the proceeds from the library’s summer reading program for kids, and what they got in return was priceless.

Chacoda was the mascot this summer for the library’s Undersea Library reading club. McDonald visited Bedford’s elementary schools before the summer began to tell the kids about Chacoda (a.k.a. Chuck); she explained that Chuck is a very smart, very vocal seal and that he eats between 6 and 12 pounds of fish and squid per day. Then she told the kids that those who joined the reading club would set a reading goal at the beginning of the summer, and for each student who reached the goal by September 1, the Friends of the Bedford Library would donate money to Chuck’s fish and squid fund.

“I have found that I get a better reception from the kids when we are doing something for someone else rather than when I’m giving out cheap trinkets as prizes for reading,” McDonald said. “I am delighted to say that we had 207 members of our reading club, a record for the last few years—thanks to Chacoda, I think.”

When McDonald and Tegeler brought the donation to Chuck’s fish fund to the Aquarium, they were invited into the harbor seal exhibit to meet Chacoda. One of Chacoda’s trainers, Paul Bradley, showed McDonald and Tegeler how to brush Chuck’s teeth with an electric toothbrush and how to give him the signal to vocalize. And before they left the exhibit, each librarian got a thank you they’ll never forget: a soft kiss on the cheek from Chacoda.

Learn more about Atlantic harbor seals, and see more videos of Chacoda in action. Find out more about the seals getting their teeth brushed and see video here, here and here.

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