Three nights ago, I attended the holiday season’s Festival of Lights at the Mystic Aquarium and its neighbor Olde Mistick Village in southeastern Connecticut. The Aquarium waived the admission fee for all entrants who donated food for charitable distribution, and the touristy shopping village lit up its buildings and walkways with a festive flair.
Without question, though, the stars of the evening were the beluga whales of the Aquarium. The astonishingly intelligent and amiable creatures recognized when tourists wished to snap photos and obliged by bringing their faces up to the tank’s glass walls to (quite literally) smile for the cameras. They danced with children, rolled upside down for applause, and even engaged in crowd control activities by temporarily swimming away when their fans became too loud and boisterous.
And how did the evening progress at the shopping Village next door? As can be expected, mobs of humans trampled the walkway lights, stormed the fudge counters, and flared into arguments as cashier lines lengthened throughout the stores. They drove their automobiles directly into fully gridlocked streets, and aggressively cruised the parking lots, desperate for open spots.
The Aquarium’s web site refers to the whales as “animals,” but if you had attended the Festival of Lights, you would’ve concluded that the reference was a misplaced one. For even if you had noticed any animal behavior in Mystic three nights ago, you wouldn’t had found it on the watery side of the aquarium tanks.