(Sting)ray of SunshineOctober 13, 2021
Tiffany Holloway is a rockstar single mom of four amazing boys, but you may know her better from her viral Reddit story. Her son Jonas had a very special birthday coming up, and when Tiffany asked him what wanted, he told her a stuffed version of one of his favorite animals: a manta ray. The pandemic had been hard on Tiffany, and she couldn’t afford to buy him one, so she got creative and knit him his own special ray out of his baby blanket. Soon, people from all over were sending Jonas stuffed rays.
When we heard the Holloway’s story, and saw how passionate the family was about marine life, we brought them out to SeaWorld Orlando for an experience they’d never forget!
Tiffany and her boys got to meet many of the special animals in our care, from dolphins to penguins to the rays Jonas loves so much! Our zoo ambassadors stepped up in a big way to give the family a special outing, providing them with a behind-the-scenes look at our conservation work as well as guided tours of some of our diverse marine habitats. At the Manatee Rehabilitation Center, the Holloway’s learned about SeaWorld’s role in rescuing and rehabilitating manatees of all ages who have been affected by the unique mortality event currently taking place on the East Coast. Over at the Aquarium, they studied many different types of rays and watched how various species interact and co-exist peacefully in one environment. At Pacific Point, Jonas and his brothers got to bark along with the sea lions and even had the chance to help feed them!
Perhaps the best moment of the day came when they entered Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin and got to meet some penguins. Jonas was all smiles and couldn’t get over how the King penguin’s feathers looked like fur. He learned a lot about the different kinds of penguins, and the whole family was floored to learn that the King penguin with them was a young one like Jonas – about three years old – even though he was as tall as him!
All in all, the family left the park that day with a wealth of new knowledge on marine life and a renewed interest in helping support our conservation efforts. We are so lucky to have supporters like the Holloway’s, and were even more lucky that we got to meet this amazing family!