“The Sparky Show” Returns to Como After Star’s Hazelden Rehab for Sardine Addiction

ST. PAUL — The popular Sparky Show returned to The Como Zoo this week after a nearly five-year hiatus. Audiences were initially told the extended break was due to a $21 million renovation project to Seal Harbor. But that story changed last August when TMZ revealed that the show’s star, Sparky the Sea Lion, had checked into the Hazelden Betty Ford Clinic for her 75-cans-a-day salty sardine habit. 

“The new construction absolutely set us back,” said zookeeper Jeremy Mauston. “But the true story was Sparky was out of control and not ready to perform. It’s hard to balance balls on your nose when you’ve sniffed it full of soggy fish entrails.” 

Como Park officials preferred to focus on the positives for the future of the Sparky Show, instead of its sordid, swampy past.

“The renovation has given us room for more elaborate performances,” said Senior Seal Wrangler Pat Selby. “Sparky will now be able to speed swim, jump through hoops, and even juggle plates, provided her flipper monitors don’t get in the way.”

In terms of public relations, the zoo plans to be proactive with audiences about Sparky’s situation. Oily sardines have been replaced with non-addictive smelt for patrons to toss during the show and as part of Sparky’s community service she will be visiting other zoos and encouraging seal pups to ‘Just Say No’.

“I’m glad Sparky is OK,” said park goer Sue Johnson from Duluth. “But these smelt are kind of bland.”