Keeper gets seal-ion of approval for PhD study

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Keeper Alyx is set to continue her in-depth studies into the unique characteristics of sealions’ whiskers after being awarded funding to study for a doctorate.

Alyx Milne, who works with our family of Californian sealions, will use her PhD to delve further into the function, evolution and control aspects of sealions’ whiskers.

Her research has already won critical recognition after her Masters paper was published in an academic journal and led to an invitation for her to attend the International Marine Animal Trainers’ Association (IMATA) conference in the Bahamas earlier this year.

The Liverpool born keeper has been working at the zoo since 2011 after first falling in love with marine animals on a trip to SeaWorld when she was five years old.

Alyx, aged 28, said: “I am so excited to get the funding for my PhD, I have been wanting to do it for so long as it was the next natural step to take. This funding will help with so many other opportunities and next year, if my application is accepted, I’m hoping to attend the IMATA conference in San Diego as, sadly, I had to decline the offer to attend this year due to work commitments.”

Alyx will complete her PhD at Manchester Metropolitan University, making her a Doctor of Philosophy/Science.

The talented keeper also holds a first class Masters degree as well as a first class BSc (Hons) degree in Zoology.

Peter Dillingham, Animal Manager at Blackpool Zoo, said: “We are all absolutely thrilled for Alyx as she continues her studies into sealions’ whiskers. It is a major achievement and I think I can speak for all the staff here at Blackpool Zoo when I say how proud we all are of her.”

Sealions whiskers are very sensitive enabling them to pick up vibrations in the water and air to help them find food.

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