Sea Life & Wild Life on Social Media
Visitors haven’t been able to step inside the magical enclaves of SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium and WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo for some time, but a series of TikTok videos via @sealifesydneyaquarium and @wildlifesydneyzoo, are taking the menagerie of sea and land creatures to the world, reaching a bigger global audience than pre-lockdown. Fans enjoying up-close views of the colourful inhabitants now number in the millions, with an adorable penguin video going viral garnering a whopping 5.8 million views.
This pivot has created a new business arm for both SEA LIFE and WILD LIFE, which are owned by Merlin Entertainment, a leader in location-based, family entertainment venues and experiences. “The team has been determined to showcase all of the interesting things that occur within our attractions every single day,” says Kristy Brown, Head of PR with ANZ Merlin Entertainment. “Our aquarists and keepers are still on site daily, caring for our animals and providing them with wonderful enrichment opportunities that our guests love to see.”
A vibrant range of entertaining and educational content via live streams and private Zoom sessions has seen the pivot turn profitable. New Wild at Home Tours offer 45-minute private and interactive virtual meetings with SEA LIFE aquarists or WILD LIFE keepers to meet the animals and ask questions. “It shows the best of Australia’s wildlife at WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo and the majestic underwater wonders at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium,” says Brown.
Conservation, protection and exploration are at the core of SEA LIFE and WILD LIFE, and in this time of lockdown, online education has taken a front seat through the free Wild at Home hub on the website, which has drawn in the highest number of visitors across the Merlin Entertainment portfolio. “The Wild at Home hub is the ultimate online destination for parents looking for fun and educational activities to keep the kids entertained,” says Brown. It has also received positive feedback from teachers. “They appreciate the extra free content to support learning from home.”
@sealifesydneyaquariumwhen the dive team try and compete with the penguin team ??♀️ ##fancylike ##penguins ##sealifesydneyaquarium
The content has been shared far and wide. A recent TikTok video of a feeding time dance routine by the keepers of the gentoo penguins has been the most successful. The video, showing the penguins becoming engaged with their dancing keepers to the trending track Fancy Like by Walker Hayes, went viral, with a combined 5.8 million views.
The stunning result saw SEA LIFE’s TikTok following increase from 27,000 to over 100,000 in just five days. It was also shared on the SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium’s Instagram and Facebook pages, reaching an additional 135,000 viewers.
“Many of our guests are missing the animals at SEA LIFE Sydney and WILD LIFE Sydney so it’s been a pleasure to be able to keep them connected, and it has helped many families get through those long days of home-schooling.”
Some of the other star performers on TikTok include a dugong named Pig, the seahorses, stingrays and giant sharks. “We have been sharing feel-good videos across all our channels,” adds Brown.
For the time being, the doors remain shut of both attractions. “Given a high proportion of Merlin’s visitors are from overseas or interstate, trading conditions continue to be significantly impacted,” admits Brown. But she’s optimistic about the valuable lessons learned from the lockdowns that will vigorously drive the business into the future.