Swims with Dolphins
I heard an interesting exchange while I was at the National Aquarium in DC (yes, we have one), doing research for a Washington Post article I wrote: Aquatic Adventures and a Dolphin Birthday.
There was a man there with two little boys. I imagine they were his sons and he says to one of them, "I'll show you Patrick."
I'm wondering if he has come up with personal pet names for these creatures or if he knew something I didn't. Turns out it was the latter. It all became clear when one little boy said, "I want to find Sponge Bob! All they have to do is put a sponge in there."
So this man knew he needed to reference a tv character to get his kids to make the connection. (If you don't know, Patrick is a starfish.) I just hope he told them that there is no Sponge Bob...
The aquarium marketing rep told me that pop culture has had a huge influence on aquarium visits. After The Little Mermaid, everyone was looking for Sebastian and puffer fish. And for a while everyone was looking for Nemo as well.
Much safer than when people adopt dalmatians or chihuahuas after seeing them on tv or in a movie and dump them after the real ones are not as much fun as their on-screen counterparts.