We were so moved by this sweet story told by one of Maymont’s special guests, Dr. Gail B. Newton, who brought her grandchildren to the Members’ Otter Preview last Monday, May 15, we had to share. Thanks to Dr. Newton for reminding us of the magic of making memories at Maymont.
“Nothing touches your heart more than to hear giggles and laughter from a little child. About nine years ago, I delighted to that sound from my not-quite two-year-old grandson, Sean. He sat mesmerized by the antics of the otters, Neptune and Pandora, as they swam and played in their watery place at Maymont. He followed their every move and delighted in watching as they swam and glided up and down in the water. Year upon year, Sean returned either with me or my daughter, his mother. His first stop was always to see the otters. He really grew to love them. On that first visit I bought him a stuffed otter, and he still has it in his room.
Then one day when Sean was four, he found the special otter home empty. He had his mother inquire about the otters, and he found out they were being treated by a veterinarian. He was sad for a long time until the otters were returned to their habitat. As soon as they were returned, Sean made a special trip to see them. When they were hiding, the staff coaxed them out with treats just so Sean could see that they were okay. Then years later, an email revealed that Pandora was gone, and shortly after Neptune died too. The tank was empty again, and Sean was very sad. Although he always enjoyed Maymont, Sean felt something was missing. Then Sean, now eleven, found that two new otters, Louis and one to be named, were coming to Maymont. Last night at a special showing, he saw them. It brought back so many memories to me. He did not giggle this time being so much older, but he did bring his treasured otter toy to introduce it to the new friends. The night was wonderful with so much information shared about otters and the opportunity to see them. Sean’s younger sister and brother were very excited too. His brother, Will, made friends with an alligator and his sister, Catherine, was thinking up names for the new otter.
I stood there thinking I want someone to know how much this means to my Sean who is probably representative of many children. I wanted to say thank you Maymont for all you do, and especially bringing back the otters.” – Dr. Gail B. Newton