The Opera House has today launched a new social chat bot, giving Sydneysiders the chance to speak with the famous Sydney Opera House seal to discover more about the inspirational experiences on offer at the world-renowned performing arts centre. A giant 8-metre inflatable homage to the seal has popped up in Sydney Harbour today only to celebrate the launch of the bot.
Affectionately known as Benny (named after Bennelong Point), the Opera House seal has regularly visited the northern VIP steps of the Opera House since it was first spotted sunbathing in 2014, and later with a juvenile pup friend. The wild long-nosed fur seal made its first splash on the international stage in 2016, immortalised by Simpson’s creator Matt Groening alongside Homer Simpson in a cartoon created for the Opera House’s GRAPHIC Festival.
Now the much-loved mammal has been characterised as a disarmingly charming chat bot guide to the Opera House. The seal has a wealth of knowledge about everything from insider stories and random facts to advice on what to see and do and even date ideas, with a penchant for memes and gifs.
Christina Erskine, Sydney Opera House General Manager of Marketing, said:
“Humans have an inexplicable but undeniable connection with furry creatures. From a grumpy domestic cat to the king of the jungle, animals can move us, bring us together, calm us and communicate with us.
“Speaking with a seal about the Opera House is probably the last thing people would expect. By creating an affable, informed and frankly adorable seal we want Sydneysiders to discover a completely different side to the Opera House and realise there’s something for everyone to enjoy here.”
The Sydney Opera House seal bot will also inspire and educate Opera House fans about Sydney’s seal population, including scientific facts about long-nosed fur seals.
Andrew Irvine, Unit Supervisor of the Marine Mammal Department at Taronga Zoo said:
“The seal at the Opera House is a happy and healthy adult and seems very comfortable in its regular hauling-out spot where it rests and sunbathes before heading back out to find a meal.
“It’s fantastic to see increasing numbers of long-nosed fur seals returning to their traditional haunts around Sydney Harbour after the population was nearly hunted to extinction in the 1800s. The fact that the Opera House seal has returned to the same location over the years is a strong indicator that the public are behaving responsibly, and a wonderful example of how humans and wildlife can share the marine environment.”
Chat with the Sydney Opera House seal bot now: www.m.me/sydneyoperahouseseal/.
Seal bot explainer: www.sydneyoperahouse.com/seal