Cetacean Society International

Whales Alive!

Vol. IV No. 4 October 1995



By Ken Thickman

CONNY, the 60 foot long, 15 foot tall, 15 foot wide, life-size model of an adult male sperm whale at The Science Center of Connecticut in West Hartford, seems to have found the fountain of youth. This model made of ferro- cement on the grounds outside the Science Center is big enough for 29 persons to walk inside. CONNY, so familiar to many of Connecticut's school children, is soon to undergo a project to rejuvenate and enhance him. This project is being organized by The Science Center, The Cetacean Society International, Robert Victor, and Ken Thickman. Ken Thickman approached the Science Center, who owns CONNY, searching for a project to earn his eagle scout award. It was suggested that he could do some work on CONNY, and the project was soon underway. The Cetacean Society became involved as they orchestrated the building of the whale twenty years ago. Robert Victor, from the Cetacean Society International, designed the whale 20 years ago.

The proposal calls for the whale's exterior surface to be washed and painted. The whale's exterior surface is going to be washed with a high pressure spray to remove dirt and old paint. The whale will then be painted with a black concrete sealer while the teeth will be painted with an epoxy white paint. After the whale is allowed to dry, the surface will be coated with a glaze to give CONNY a glossy wet look.

The Science Center plans to upgrade the area around the whale as well. The walkways leading in and out of the whale will be refurbished. New walkways will be added to make CONNY more accessible.

The Science Center and The Cetacean Society International also plan to complete the interior of CONNY. The original concept was for CONNY to be a permanent educational exhibit as well as a sculpture. The exact nature of the exhibit has not been determined yet. There is the possibility of adding organs to the whale, these organs can be sculpted of concrete on a chicken wire frame in much the same way as the whale was. Another option is painting the organs on the wall. The life-size drawings or sculptures will be accurate and informative.

While all the details of this project have not been established, CONNY will "grow up" into a beautiful, educational display.

Photo of CONNY Under Construction in 1976


The Cetacean Society International and the Science Center of Connecticut are cosponsoring a special program about Connecticut's state animal, the Sperm Whale, to be held beginning at 8:00 P.M. on the evening of Wednesday, November 8, 1995, in the Planetarium Auditorium at the Science Center of Connecticut, 950 Trout Brook Drive, West Hartford.

One or more members of Dr. Roger Payne's famous whale research team from the Whale Conservation Institute in Lincoln, Massachusetts, will come to West Hartford to present the latest new knowledge about the giant sperm whales which congregate around the Galapagos Islands in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. They will bring with them rare, spectacular video footage of sperm whales taken off the WCI's research boat, "The Odyssey." This is the same boat that Star Trek actor Patrick Stewart spent a week on last spring.

The Science Center, with the cooperation of the CSI, is undertaking to refurbish the 60-foot, life-size, ferro-cement model of a male sperm whale, nicknamed CONNY, which CSI members constructed outside their Planetarium, nearly 20 years ago (see preceding story). The November 8 program will be free to CSI members, but it is hoped that it will serve as a springboard for the raising of "Friends of CONNY" funds to help with the costs of making CONNY a renewed, bright and shining educational attraction in the state.

Additional features at the November 8 program at the West Hartford Science Center will include songs of whales and the sea by CSI Past President Don Sineti and Connecticut Troubadour Tom Callinan, and also some undersea songs by humpback whales recorded in the Virgin Islands by CSI Program Chairman Paul Knapp, Jr.

This is the first CSI-sponsored whale meeting open to the public in some time. Don't miss it!


By Don Sineti, Past President of CSI

I have long been fascinated by the ways different cultures have viewed whales through the ages: from the sea monsters the early mariners came upon (left panel) to the spirit, totemic art of the Indians of the Pacific Northwest as we see the Orca (right panel), and the thrill of a breaching humpback whale to the eyes and soul of a present day whale watcher (center panel).

I hope you enjoy our new masthead. I sure had a great time creating it. Thanks, cheers and fair winds. - Don Sineti

Image of Whales Alive! Masthead


CSI announces the availability of a free educational flyer on the subject of cetaceans in captivity. The flyer is clearly critical of captive display, but its purpose is to serve as a stimulating educational resource and survey of changing public opinions. Every fact has been generated by experts, using the most accurate and current data available. Athough centered on orcas in captive display, data on other species are included in a general view that intentionally remains clear of identifying facilities. Most people with strong opinions about captive cetaceans, pro or con, seem surprised at the statistics and facts. It might even change some minds.

CSI can't afford to include one with every "Whales Alive!" but we will happily send one as a sample to anyone who requests it. And more, we will send as many as can be used as intended, to anyone with an interest. We want this flyer to reach many people. If you are willing to help us do that please let us know.

Go to next article: Howard E. Winn, 1926-1995 or: Back to Contents.

© Copyright 1995, Cetacean Society International, Inc.