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Joy

Hamsters receiving elaborate meals is quite possibly the cutest thing on the internet

Mr. Marshmallow and Mr. Crumpet are living their best lives.

hamsters eating tiktok, hamsters tiktok, treats for hamsters

Compliments to the chef.

Once upon a time, the image of a hamster enjoying a delicious bowl of fresh spaghetti was only the stuff of fairy tales, and maybe one-third of all the Disney classics.

But not anymore. Behold … "The Hamster Station" on TikTok and Instagram, where you can bear witness to all the teeny-tiny feasts and itty-bitty activities of two adorable hamsters.

Their names? Mr. Marshmallow and Mr. Crumpet, naturally.

Mr. Marshmallow and Mr. Crumpet’s owner spoils them rotten with elaborate meals worthy of a Paul Hollywood handshake, made perfectly hamster-sized. And the internet is enthralled.


When I say elaborate, I’m not exaggerating. Below you find a “hamster picnic” complete with table and red checkered cloth on a patch of artificial grass. Topped with a pasta bowl. And a fruit slushie to wash it all down. This video alone got 7.5 million views.

You might be thinking, sure, this is cute and all, but do the hamsters even appreciate all this?

Just take one look at how they slurp those noodles, and you’ll have your answer.

@thehamsterstation He absolutely loves to have a picnic ❤️ #fyp #hamster #hamsters #hamstersoftiktok #thehamsterstation #pet ♬ Angeleyes (Sped Up Version) - tuna (SVT)

Understandably, hearts were won after watching.

“I just watched an adorable hamster eat a spaghetti noodle……..my day has been made lol,” wrote one person.

“This hamster living better life than me,” joked another.

What’s for dessert, you may wonder. Why, carrot cake, of course. Which the hungry, hungry hamster inhales. Truly the only proper way to eat carrot cake.

@thehamsterstation Reply to @thehappyhamsters3 The way he snatched it out of my hand 😂 #fyp #hamster #hamsters #hamstersoftiktok #thehamsterstation #pet ♬ Love You So - The King Khan & BBQ Show

Of course, the owner has reassured viewers that all meals are “hamster safe.” For the most part, these little guys have pretty lenient diets and can indulge in quite a bit of human foods, according to The Spruce.

However, some foods can be problematic. Peanut butter, for example, can get stuck in a hamster cheek pouch. Yes, even their dietary restrictions are adorable.

@thehamsterstation Reply to @ashleymaynard02 He absolutely loved them ❤️ recipe from vanillahamham on yt ❤️ #fyp #hamster #hamsters #hamstersoftiktok #thehamsterstation ♬ You Got A Friend In Me (From "Toy Story") - Just Kids

For these “hamster-safe pancakes” seen above, the batter was made with plain flour, milk and water, then topped with a tiny piece of banana to look like butter. Genius.

But why stop at meals? Mr. Marshmallow had his very own mini movie night.

You know, chilling on a dollhouse couch, munching on some popcorn, and watching “The Bee Movie” on the big screen. Well, big for a hamster anyway.

@thehamsterstation What should Mr Marshmallow watch next? ❤️ #fyp #hamster #hamsters #hamstersoftiktok #thehamsterstation #pet ♬ Carrying Your Love - David Morris

Mr. Marshmallow dressed for the occasion in his dashing top hat.

By the way, Mr. Marshmallow and Mr. Crumpet might have a talented owner, but they are also artists in their own right.

Just look at their marvelous paintings below.

@thehamsterstation Replying to @thehamsterstation What do you think of Mr Crumpets painting? ❤️ #fyp #hamster #hamsters #Hamstersoftiktok #thehamsterstation #pet ♬ Funny Song - Cavendish Music

A dollop of different colors were dropped onto a tiny canvas, which was then placed in a plastic bag so that Mr. Crumpet could begin his work. By “work” I mean going after treats. Don't judge his process!

Hamsters are already notoriously low-maintenance pets and this raises their cuteness factor times a bajillion. Cats and dogs might take the lead when it comes to popular household pets, but now there’s even more reason to consider owning a critter like Mr. Marshmallow and Mr. Crumpet. Or at least watch more videos of them.

Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

Joy

Strangers rally to cry for help for 22-year-old mother given just four months to live

In 24 hours, people flooded the family with donations to hopefully buy Rachael Burns some time with her 1-year-old daughter, Raeya.

Rachael Burns was given a dire prognosis as her daughter turned one.

Being given just a few months to live is a daunting prognosis for anyone, but when you're a 22-year-old mother with a 1-year-old daughter, it's particularly tragic. Your adult life has just begun. You are the world to your young child. Your partner is suddenly looking at losing you and becoming a single parent, all in one fell swoop.

Rachael Burns of Belfast, Northern Ireland, is facing that exact reality. Eight months ago, she began experiencing headaches, dizzy spells and irritation in her eyes, according to Belfast Live. At first, doctors chalked it up to dehydrated eyes and she considered them migraines, but after an emergency trip to the hospital in early June 2024, Burns was diagnosed with diffuse midline glioma brain tumour—brain cancer with a rare, aggressive mutation that is spreading down her spine.


Because of its size and where it's located, doctors said there is no way to even attempt an operation on it. Consultants told her that anyone who came in with her symptoms and that diagnosis generally had 9 to 12 months to live.

"I’ve shown symptoms for the last eight," Burns told Belfast Live. “I was told to assume that that was the case and try to make the most of the next four months.

“I left that appointment with no real hope and I didn’t know how to tell my mum and the rest of the family, I didn’t want them to get upset. It felt like everything had just been taken away from me at that point."

Facing such a dire prediction, Burns began writing years' worth of birthday cards for her daughter, Raeya, who just had her first birthday. The only option appeared to be six weeks of radiotherapy, which would do little to help.

But research into experimental therapies unveiled a ray of hope to buy more time with her family.

"We've identified a potentially life-extending treatment in Germany, under the name of ONC201," the family shared on GoFundMe, "but it comes at a significant cost. Should Rachael qualify, we need funds to pay for travel costs, accommodation and the drugs themselves.

"We refuse to let financial worries hinder Rachael's fight for her life or deprive her and her daughter of precious time together. Our goal is to ensure their comfort should the worst come to pass. No one should go from celebrating their child's first birthday to facing a terminal illness so swiftly."

Not only did the local community of West Belfast turn out for this young family but people around the world did as well. In less than 24 hours, they'd raised £30,000 (approximately $38,000 U.S.).

mom and dad holding baby in front of a birthday cake

Donate to Support a young mother battling terminal cancer, organized by Rachael Burns.

www.gofundme.com

“I’m just totally overwhelmed by the response that we have got so far,” Rachael said. “Belfast is such a small place but you never think that people from all over would show as much kindness as they have done for me and my family. It is a scary time to be going through all of this but this has given me more hope that I can spend some more time with my family.”

Burns told The Irish News that the treatment she's seeking in Germany has extended the life of people with her diagnosis by as much as 22 months. That may not sound like much time, but in the life of a small child, it's hugely significant.

“My Raeya will always know just how much her mummy fought with everything in her power for even a quick glimpse of watching her grow into the beautiful, strong and kind girl I know she will be in this world," Burns said. “Situations are what you make of them and I refuse to just be another statistic.”

While the future is uncertain for the Burns family, the money that's been raised gives her the best chance for a miracle. Any funds that don't go to Rachael's treatment will go into a bank account for young Raeya "to support her in life for if the time comes when she loses her mother."

Find the GoFundMe here.

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

Pop Culture

Alan Tudyk creates Reddit account just to connect with fan who missed out on talking to him

The 'Resident Alien' star sent the sweetest message to a fan who lamented not telling him how important the show was to her.

This is how you treat a fan.

Even if you don’t typically get star struck, odds are there’s one celebrity that would send you into a nervous fit should you ever come face-to-face. Especially if that celebrity was part of a project that meant a great deal to you.

Like, how do you tell them that a movie or TV show they starred in changed your entire outlook on life in the 30 seconds that you’re probably allowed to interact with them? You can’t. So instead you say something lame alá “Gee, I’m your biggest fan,” as they politely sign some memorabilia, and then your time is up. Opportunity for connection with someone who greatly impacted your life: gone.

This is what happened when a fan of the sci-fi comedy “Resident Alien” got a chance to meet the show’s star, Alan Tudyk, at a convention.


Unfortunately, nerves got the best of her, and she “blew” her chance to share how meaningful the show has been during a particularly dark period of her life. Filled with anguish and embarrassment, she created a throwaway Reddit account just to vent about the experience.

“I went to Fan Fest Boston and met Alan on Saturday,” her post began. “I wanted to tell him that ‘Resident Alien’ was the first show that made me laugh after my husband died this winter, that it helped me to feel human again, and I wanted to thank him for that.”

via GIPHY

However, the OP was very aware of how “exhausted” Tudyk appeared, and the long lines of people still waiting to see him. Plus she knew they couldn’t say their piece “without crying.”

So instead, she “stood there awkward and stupid,” and made a joke about “Firefly,” the show that launched Tudyk’s career.

The entire debacle left the OP regretting that she never got a chance to let Tudyk know “that his work really affected someone and helped them through a hard time.”

“I know he probably wouldn’t care and he would forget by the end of the day so I’m not sure why it’s bothering me so much, but I just really wanted to say thank you.” the post concluded.

Well, through the almighty power of the internet, Tudyk found out about this post. And he responded in such a thoughtful way.

resident alien, alan tudyk

A photo of Tudyk's response

preview.redd.it

Here’s what he wrote:

“My friend sent me this. Sorry you feel like you missed your opportunity. I have read your message. I love that you have such a beautiful connection with the show. I’m so sorry to hear about your husband. I’m glad you’re finding your laugh again and honored that I’m a part of that. Your story and similar stories I’ve heard are so touching. It makes me feel like my work, which I appreciate getting to do, has worth beyond the Hollywood hustle of it all and the BS business of show business.”

Tudyk even gave the OP another opportunity to meet, inviting her to come by the following day before he hopped on a plane so that he could also say “thank you in person.”

Though the OP wasn’t able to meet Tudyk that day (she explained in a follow-up post that it would be her kids’ first Father’s Day without dad, and they had to “come first”), she noted that she would return to the same convection next year, and tell it to him again—this time in person.

She also ended her heartwarming post with a very appropo “Resident Alien” quote, in which Tudyk’s non-human character Harry reflects:

“Everyone needs to belong to something bigger than themselves. Yes, there is strength in numbers, but maybe it's simpler. Maybe humans just feel better when they know they are not alone on this earth.”

Brielle Asero lost her job after 2 months.

TikTokker Brielle Asero, 21, a recent college graduate, went viral on TikTok in October for her emotional reaction to the first day at a 9-to-5 job. The video, which received 3.4 million views, captured the public’s attention because it was like a cultural Rorschach test.

Some who saw the video thought that Asero came off as entitled and exemplified the younger generation’s lack of work ethic. In contrast, others sympathized with the young woman who is just beginning to understand how hard it is to find work-life balance in modern-day America.

“I’m so upset,” she says in the video. "I get on the train at 7:30 a.m., and I don't get home until 6:15 p.m. [at the] earliest. I don't have time to do anything!" Asero said in a video.


“I don’t have the time to do anything,” she continued. “I want to shower, eat my dinner, and go to sleep. I don’t have the time or energy to cook my dinner either. I don’t have energy to work out, like, that’s out of the window. I’m so upset, oh my god.”

@brielleybelly123

im also getting sick leave me alone im emotional ok i feel 12 and im scared of not having time to live

On December 16, Asero gave an update on her professional life, and sadly, things aren’t going too well. After just 2 months on the job, she was laid off. It had taken her 5 months to find the job and she had recently relocated to New York City to be near the office.

"I worked for a startup, and they didn't have the workload or the bandwidth they needed to train me and to give me work to do," she said. Being laid off during the holidays makes Asero's situation even more difficult because most employers are closed for business in late December and early January.

Asero had some stern words for those who would blame her for losing her job.

"I know that I'm a hard worker, and my boss literally said that I'm one of the smartest people he's ever had working under him, and he knows that I'm going to land on my feet, and he will give me a great referral to anybody, so don't start," she warned.

@brielleybelly123

can someone tell me im going to be okay !!!! feels like the world is ending i need a job immediatley i am feeling so lost rn like i moved for this...!?

"I have done everything I possibly could have, and it's still not enough," she said. To supplement her income while looking for her next big break, Asero says she will look for work as a server or nanny.

Even though Asero took a lot of criticism for crying after her first day at work, the comments on the new video were overwhelmingly positive and supportive. There were also a lot of people who shared how they had recently been laid off, too.

"Just want to note that there’s no shame in taking a service job while you’re still looking. You’re going to be okay, you got this," Baby bel wrote. "It happened to me, seems like ur life is ending, but I promise it's just getting started. You’ll laugh about it at some point," Rachie added.


This article originally appeared on 12.22.23












Family

Mom seeks support after son gets upsetting note from another kid's parents at camp

“I am trying to handle properly so I don't let my anger get the best of me and I go off on a parent.”

What do you do when the adults behave like children?

Even when parents do their best to teach kids the importance of kindness and mutual respect, tiffs will happen. Navigating those circumstances is tricky enough, but when the adults also participate in immature behavior, well…that’s a whole ‘nother can of interrelational worms.

This was the dilemma that a mom named Victoria found herself in, and it caused her so much uncertainty that she reached out to her TikTok followers for advice.

Here’s what happened: her 7-year-old son had gotten into a few arguments with another child while at summer camp.


“Camp counselors have noticed it. They said something to my son, said something to this other kid, also talked to me about it and also to the other parent. They did not tell me who this other child is for safety, privacy, that’s fine, I don’t care,” she said in her video.

Victoria went on to explain that after the camp reached out, she and her husband talked to her son “at length” about how these altercations were not okay.

“We treat people the way we want to be treated and that we are nice and we don’t do those things. We are at camp to make friends, not to make enemies. Be nice and stop your garbage,” she told him.

@wickatoria89 Would you be mad if you’re seven-year-old received a letter like this from an adult?#bulling #parents #advice #parentingtips #parenting #madmomma #fyp ♬ original sound - Victoria

Unfortunately, that wouldn’t be the end of the issue.

The next day, her husband watched as their son walked up to the camp grounds, where the other little boy was, along with his grandmother. The grandmother apparently “stared” at Victoria’s son, asked her grandson, “Is that the little boy?” and when she got a “yes,” she handed her grandson a note to give to Victoria’s son.

Victoria’s husband quickly stepped in to take the note and notify the camp, because it was written by the boy’s parents, and wasn’t very kind.

Here’s what it said:

“Ethan, Please STAY AWAY from [name of boy]! Do not talk to him! Do not touch him! Do not even look at him! You guys do not get along! I do not want to hear another incident that involves you! Keep your hands + your mouth to yourself!!!”

This “infuriated” Victoria, and even the camp counselor who was shown the note was pretty flabbergasted, saying in their 32 of teaching, they had “never seen” something like that.

Still, in an effort to not let anger get the best of her and “handle the situation properly,” Victoria sought out the advice of other parents to see how they might respond.

Across the board, folks agreed that the note was inappropriate, and that Victoria should reach out to the camp directly.

“That note should be grounds to remove that family from camp. Period,” one person wrote.

Another added, “The other parents are unhinged. Escalate to the director ASAP. If they don’t dismiss the other family, I’d switch camps. They are not safe people.”

Another person wondered if there was “more to the story” since the notes mentioned that the boy should keep his hand to himself, which implied hitting might be involved. Victoria clarified that “The counselors simply told me they were playing and then at one point they started arguing and calling one another names. This has happened a few times when they played together.”

Whether there’s “more to the story” or not, people are in agreement that the other adults unfortunately aren't offering much in the way of setting a good example of mature problem-solving. But hopefully Victoria can feel a little more at ease with the support she got from online viewers, and have more confidence in going to the camp director about this situation.

Modern Families

Twin brothers are turning heads while fulfilling their dreams as SeaWorld trainers

Working with the animals has taught them a lot about connection.

via SeaWorld (used with permission)

Jakob and Westin Fenton at SeaWorld San Antonio.

Visitors to SeaWorld Sea Antonio, Texas have been doing double takes for the past 5 years after running into identical twin brothers Westin and Jakob Fenton. Guests often catch Westin educating children about exotic birds as a member of the Animal Ambassadors team near the park’s entrance. Then, a few minutes later, spot Jakob in a wet suit at the Orca Encounter.

“Every day it's like, 'Didn't I just see you?’” Westin told Upworthy. “It surprises them,” Jakob added. When Westin had braces, countless visitors frantically approached Jakob with a confused look, asking, “When did you get your braces off?”

The 23-year-old twins have been turning heads at SeaWorld since they were young boys and began attending the park’s summer camps at 7.


"They were the cutest. You could tell how obsessed they were with the animals. It made me so happy years later when they got hired here and to see how well they both do,” Kari Tomarelli, a trainer at Orca Encounter, shared with Upworthy.

jakob fenton, westin fenton, seaworld san antonio

Jakob and Westin Fenton at SeaWorld San Antonio.

via SeaWorld (used with permission)

From a very young age, the Fenton twins knew SeaWorld was more than just a place they visited—it was their destiny. "It was during my time away from SeaWorld that I realized, 'This is where I'm meant to be,'" Westin shared. "We've always been the twins who do everything together. Same friends, same passions, extracurriculars... everything,” Jakob added.

So, pursuing the same career wasn’t a big stretch for the twins.

The twins are incredibly close, but they also allow plenty of space for their animal companions at SeaWorld. Jakob spends a lot of his time, energy and heart caring for two of the park's five orcas: Kamea, a 10-year-old 3,000-pound female, and Tuar, the park’s dominant male, who is 24 years old and weighs over 8,000 pounds.

The pair couldn’t be more different.

"Tuar is very goofy; he has a great attitude," Jakob said, noting that even after a challenging training session, “he's just happy to be there.” Conversely, things haven’t been so easy with Kamea. “It took time to earn her trust, and it took months to develop a relationship,” Jakob admitted. “Now, I actually adore her."

jakob fenton, westin fenton, seaworld san antonio

Jakob Fenton at the Orca Encounter.

via SeaWorld (used with permission)

Even though park visitors see Jakob in a wetsuit, giving hand signals at the Orca Encounter presentation, most of his job takes place backstage, holding a scrubber. “Eighty percent of being a trainer is cleaning,” he told Upworthy. “We need to make sure that these animals are in a clean environment so our morning is 3 or 4 hours of maintaining habitats. Scrubbing ledges, cleaning glass, cleaning fish buckets."

While Jakob's role as an orca trainer may seem glamorous, he sees it as a platform to serve the animals and educate guests. His responsibility is more significant given the scrutiny marine parks have been under in recent years and the fact that this is the last generation of orcas under SeaWorld's care.

“Being able to introduce people who've never seen a killer whale and then have them walk away with an appreciation of the species and a desire to protect them in the wild means everything,” Jakob said.

While Jakob is loading up buckets of salmon for the Orca Encounter, on the other side of the park, you’ll run into Westin, presenting one of SeaWorld San Antonio's 17 exotic animals—most of which were rescued and rehabilitated—to gawking park guests. As an Animal Ambassador, Westin educates guests about exotic reptiles, birds, and small mammals. He also travels with his animal companions to nearby schools, retirement homes and hospitals to introduce them to the public.

jakob fenton, westin fenton, seaworld san antonio

Westin Fenton and Azul at SeaWorld San Antonio.

via Tod Perry (used with permission)

When he’s not taking questions from park guests about his animal companions, such as Star the bald eagle or Azul the hyacinth macaw, he’s flashing his pearly (and recently straightened) whites for photos with guests. He estimates he poses for about 50 a day.

While many would assume training means exerting authority over the animals to force them to do desired behaviors, Westin says it’s all about building relationships. "We're simply asking, 'Hey, would you like to come and participate?’ And Star has every opportunity to say no or to say yes,” he told Upworthy. “Everything is an ask. I'm not expecting Star to do anything. Whatever Star would like, we do."

Even though people have difficulty telling the twins apart, the animals can tell the difference. "They learn our behavior just like we learn theirs,” he told Upworthy.

The twins spend much of their lives together at SeaWorld and as Pilates instructors on the side, so what sets them apart? "Westin is a little more tamed. More reserved and to himself. Whereas Jakob is the life of the party,” Cesi Buitrago, a trainer at Orca Encounter, said. They also have one big difference in diet: Westin can’t stand cheese on his burger, but Jakob loves it.

jakob fenton, westin fenton, seaworld san antonio

The Fenton twins with a beluga whale.

via SeaWorld (used with permission)

For the Fenton twins, life at SeaWorld has taught them a lot about the animal kingdom, but it has also changed how they see humans.

“I had no idea the impact these whales would have on my life and how they would teach me how to be a better human and mentor,” Jakob told Upworthy. “Building my relationships with them, I can use what I've learned when thinking about developing a relationship with a human. They teach me to be patient, to listen, to invest, to really get to know someone. Don’t fake it. I never would have imagined all of these life skills I would have learned from killer whales."

It’s no surprise that Westin has come away with a similar lesson.

"So much of what we do is relationships. [The animals] have taught me what it takes to get to know someone; they’ve taught me patience, just really connecting on a deeper level,” Westin says. “I've learned a lot about life and, ultimately, connection."