That's twenty-five years ago. Meanwhile, he has set himself on a diet to continue to stay fit for the show. In conversation he tells that he has already lost 8 kilograms. He feels the years' efforts in his bones and thinks it's time to get lighter (he grins). The two sea lions can watch him calm down. They continue to receive their daily portion of herring, freshly delivered from the Netherlands. John Burke is a little sorry for the black tea, because as a native Englishman with half Irish roots, he appreciates this very much. Now and then he is allowed to drink a cup. Another big grin flits across his face.
Especially in recent years, a lot has happened to the Burke family. In addition to Diego, now 11 years old and Lou, who will soon be 9, two females lived in the park until the beginning of the year. Maggie gave birth to a cub in autumn 2013, little Molly. At the turn of the year, Burke received two lucrative offers for the two sea lions. The Seaquarium was awarded the contract in Le Grau-du-Roi, France, directly on the Mediterranean coast. Since February 2014 Maggie and Molly (now under the name Tess) live there together with two other sea lions and five seals. Burke is very happy with his decision to sell the two to France.
His oldest living fin fellow Roger, 25 years old, can currently be experienced with his son Patrick Burke in Cirkusland in the Danish town of Slagelse.
Diego and Lou can be seen as a duo at HANSA-PARK this year. In addition to classic juggling performances with balls and hoops, the two jump with speed in the air, over obstacles or from 2 meters in height in the 4.40-meter deep pool, while hedging a lot of nonsense. The highlight of the show is, especially for the children, when a selected child from the audience with Diego so captain can go through a lap and Lou may throw some rings. Finally, there is a joint photo with the sea lions as a souvenir for home.
On a tour of the water circus, John Burke explains that the water in the pools remains completely chlorine-free. An environmentally friendly ozone filter and a protein skimmer clean the water circulation of organic substances and germs. The saltwater quality is not unimportant for the sea lions. Above all, Roger struggles with a blindness caused by the sun's ultraviolet rays. The seawater in the pools relieves this problem a bit. But sea lions spend 2/3 of their lives ashore. However, they also sleep most of the time. A large awning should help, and protect the sensitive eyes of the animals. The relatively warm environment of northern Germany, however, does not bother the animals. Because the Patagonian sea lions live originally in South American climes like the coast of Chile.
While watching Diego and Lou swimming in the pool, John Burke suddenly laughs. He tells us that he has never seen a sea lion swimming up the surface of the abdomen, like Diego. With sunglasses and cocktail in the fin Diego would look like an ordinary tourist in the pool of his resort hotel. My tip, pay attention when you watch them through the window at the Wafflestube. So you can distinguish the two.
John Burke has some plans for the future. In addition to Bollo and Naboo he would like to bring a few more parrots in the show. In this case, a large aviary should be grown on the side of the water circus, so that the parrots can climb outside at will. The animals are supposed to have space because they spend the entire season at HANSA-PARK. When I ask if parrots and sea lions can actually occur together at the same time, John Burke says it would be feasible, but he would need more coaches for that. The animals want to be busy, and this alone is not possible. Burke would also like to include penguins in his show. But animal welfare hampers this desire enormously.