Man breaks into aquarium exhibit to feed sea lions

Man breaks into aquarium exhibit to feed sea lions

BOSTON — The New England Aquarium has implemented new security measures after a man broke into an exhibit in December and tried feeding the sea lions.

On Dec. 1, two men climbed onto the glass perimeter of the Marine Mammal Center, which houses California sea lions and Northern fur seals, and threw in fish scraps they had apparently brought themselves, Director of Communications, Pam Bechtold Snyder, told Boston 25 News Friday.

Returning later that night, when the facility was closed, one of the men successfully climbed over the glass, hopped inside and offered his fish scraps to the animals, she said.

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After the incident, the facilities manager called Boston police, who later explained the break-in to the Wharf District Council in a virtual meeting.

“The motion detection by the sea lion exhibit went off,” said Sgt. Stephen Moy by Zoom. “Security looked at the camera and saw two unidentified suspects climbing over the glass. One was feeding the sea lions while the other served as a look-out.”

The man who broke in returned alone multiple times later that month attempting to break in, but he was not able to get inside, Snyder said.

“Fortunately, neither our animals nor the person was harmed,” a statement from the aquarium reads. “The Aquarium immediately implemented a series of deterrents. There have been no further breaches. This was the first such incident since the Marine Mammal Center opened in 2009.”

As investigators search for the pair, surveillance photos of the suspects were distributed to police who patrol the area, as well as BPD’s mental health clinician, Moy said.

Asked about the danger the animals could pose to an intruder, Snyder said, “It’s the same thing if somebody broke into your house and your dog didn’t recognize them. Our marine mammals are used to seeing the faces of their wonderful, dedicated trainers. To have a stranger in there, you never know what could happen.”

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