Featured Image Credit: Sharon Claytor/Virginia Living Museum
By Alice Morris
Visitors to the Virginia Living Museum in Newport, Virginia were treated to a hilarious show recently when an albino catfish came across a child’s pacifier.
Melissa Reeves and her one-and-a-half-year-old son Jude were enjoying their time in the museum’s ‘Cypress Swamp’ exhibit when Jude suddenly tossed his pacifier into the aquarium tank.
“The part of the museum we were in had two levels,” said Sharon Claytor, a friend of Reeves who witnessed the mishap. “Jude just threw his pacifier over the edge and it fell right in the fish tank. We hurried down to the bottom part because we were worried that fish or one of the other animals might get it and choke on it or something.”
When Reeves got to the bottom level of the tank though, she discovered that someone else had found the pacifier first: the museum’s albino catfish.
“It was just like a baby walking around with it,” said Claytor. “The pacifier part was in its mouth; it was turned the right way and everything. It was perfect. It actually looked like it was sucking on it. It would fall out of its mouth and the fish would – if you’ll excuse the pun – flounder around a bit trying to pick it back up.”
Museum staff members were quickly alerted to the situation and were able to successfully scoop the pacifier out of the tank when the catfish finally dropped it.
Reeves and Claytor both remarked on how kind and understanding the staff were.
“They all thought it was hilarious and told us not to worry,” said Claytor. “Things fall into the fish tank all the time. They said the reason the fish picked up this one is there might have been food particles or something on it that the fish liked.”
After the humorous ordeal, Reeves and Jude left the museum with the pacifier in tow.
The museum’s albino catfish was born in a hatchery, but because of its low likelihood of survival in the wild, the Virginia Living Museum took it in to serve an “animal ambassador”
“The albino catfish is an example of the types of animals we have here,” said Judy Triska, a museum marketing director. “You would not know it, but many are orphaned, injured, or non-releasable and in that way, we are not like a typical zoo.”
The Virginia Living Museum opened in 1966 as a center to teach about Virginia’s natural heritage and wildlife. Learn more about the museum here.