Elaina Franklin (Winter's Former Trainer) 

Q: What was your first thought the first time you walked into the aquarium?

A: The first time I went in was after I was hired. I did a lot of research into facilities to determine where I wanted to work and  C.M.A 's website used to have pictures of the building that gave you a virtual tour so I knew what it looked like before going in. Having said that, at that point I was too eager to start my career to think of anything else.

Q: How did you become a trainer?

A: I always wanted to work at CMA but for months on end they never had a job posting. I felt like I wanted to give up hope until one day a posting finally went on their website. I applied and was interviewed and hired over the phone. I am not sure if the word ecstatic even can describe what I was feeling.

Q:  Who is your favorite dolphin at the aquarium?

A: I don't have a favorite, I love them all the same because each one has a very different and very unique personality.

Q: What made you decide to become a trainer? How old were you? 

A: After high school I wasn't sure what I  wanted to do for a career so I started college part time. When I was 25 I started volunteering at the National Aquarium in Baltimore because I always had a love for animals. I started in the rainforest assisting in the care of rainforest birds, sloths, and golden lion tamarins. One day one of the dolphin trainers came up to the rainforest to train the parrots. We started talking about training and how it's essentially a form of communication between you and the animal you are working with. After talking to her, dolphin training seemed fascinating especially since I always trained my own dogs.

Q: What was it like working with famous actresses & actors in the movie?

A: A lot of fun! To have someone like Harry Connick Jr. hang out with you on set and joke around with you like you would with your friends showed he was a real down to earth guy.

Q: What was it like at the Dolphin Tale premiere?

A: The L.A. premier was surreal. It was the first sign that all our hard work paid off. The Clearwater premier was amazing since that was the home town it was filmed in.

Q: What was the best thing about being a trainer at CMA?

 A: Being able to work with rescued animals who have a second lease on life.

Q: What is your all time favorite memory that you've made there?

A: I have so many...off the top of my head would be a time where I was swimming with Winter and we were just playing around and she initiated a game with me.  She used to have a toy that had a floppy ring attached to a small piece of noodle covered with a wetsuit. On her own she used to put the ring part in her mouth swim to the bottom, let the toy go, and watch it float to the top. This time she got her toy and when she took it to the bottom she would line up right under me. She let it go and I just watched, I thought she was playing as usual. She got the toy again and did the same thing, lined up right under me and let go. She did it several more times until I finally got what she was doing. When she let it go, it floated up right to me, apparently at that point it was my turn in which I then grabbed the toy swam to the bottom and let it go. She quickly swam over and grabbed the toy at the surface and then dove down under me and let it go for me to grab it. We took turns back and forth playing with this toy for about 1/2 hour.

Q: What was your favorite part about working with dolphins and river otters?

A: The amazing relationships that I formed with each one.

Q: What advice do you have for people who are interested in becoming a trainer?

A: Follow your goals and never give up until you reach them. That's what you have to do when you are a trainer so you should do it the whole way to get to that point.
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