It’s Tourism Month, so we’d like to introduce you to the Two Oceans Aquarium’s go-to person in tourism (and-all-round-anything-you-need), Jenni Leibbrandt. Coming from a background in corporate sales, Jenni started at the Aquarium in April and wasted no time making an impression on the staff, and the turtles.
Jenni deals directly with tour operators, tour guides, hotel representatives and corporate clients, but she’s also the person who’ll be able to guide you through what you might want from the visit – be it a tour, a function, an educational experience – and put you in touch with the right people.
We sat down with Jenni for a quick chat about her role at the Aquarium.
So Jenni, it’s Tourism Month. What pops into your head when I say “tourism”?
Anyone can be a tourist, from foreigners to locals! For me, it doesn’t matter where you’re from or where you’re going – it’s about having a new experience or learning something. So while much of my job is focused on tour groups and operators, appealing to international visitors to Cape Town, we are also getting locals involved. We want everyone to have a good experience.
What are some of the experiences people can have here at the Aquarium?
Some of our most exciting offerings are the animal “meet and greets”. With our Penguin Encounters, you can meet the northern rockhopper penguins, see what their “back of house” environment looks like and how they are cared for, and interact closely with two or three of our rockies, each of whom has a name and a very distinct personality.
There are great scuba diving opportunities in the I&J Ocean Exhibit and the Ocean Basket Kelp Forest Exhibit, where you can look at fish at close hand. Scuba diving in three words? Exhilirating, breathtaking … incredible! This experience is all-round fabulous.
We offer eco-safari boat rides, where you can hop on the Ocean Adventurer and see dolphins, seals and birds in the wild around the Table Bay harbour. We also offer behind-the-scenes and front-of-house tours, and we can put together a bespoke package for large and small groups, VIPs or “regular folks”.
What do people who want to host their event at the Aquarium need to know?
The one thing that people don’t know about the Aquarium is that they can hire the entire Aquarium for their function, or they can hire smaller areas, that they can have cocktail functions or sit-down dinners - anything that their hearts desire. Our formal functions are run after closing time, but we can run day conferences and lunches in our two venues, the Auditorium and Tranquility. Our new I&J Ocean Exhibit also makes a stunning backdrop for evening dos.
The Aquarium is a great venue - I don’t think you get better scenery than this.
What is it about the Aquarium that’s so special, in your opinion?
The Aquarium opens up an understanding of the ocean and what it’s actually made up of. I think the perception of our sea can often be quite shallow, but it all goes so much deeper, and the Aquarium presents this depth in a way that’s really beautiful, really fun and really educational! Since I’ve been here I’ve learnt something new every day about the ocean, about conservation, about how my actions affect the bigger world and the animal life out there. That makes the Aquarium a must-see attraction.
So what are your favourite animals at the Aquarium?
What’s been blowing my mind is a very small display in the Aquarium: the mermaids' purses. You can actually see live baby sharks in there! That is utterly amazing. I go look at them every day and watch them wriggle in the egg cases.
And then, the turtles. I fell in love with turtles. On one of my first working days here I met Bob the green sea turtle and Bob just did it for me. Turtles are my new loves!
Who is Jenni when she’s not at work?
After a long week I like to have some me-time, to take a break and take it easy. I love going to dinner and to explore all the little restaurants. Cape Town’s a foodie haven and there’s always something new popping up. And then, my boyfriend and I have four dogs and a cat. I love my animals and I have a bit of a problem in that I can’t not bring strays home!
Who should contact you?
When it comes to group bookings, private tours, or if people are looking for something more than just a walk through the Aquarium, I am the person to contact: whether it’s just two people looking for something special, or a group who need a package developed for them. Call us on +27 (0)21 418 3823.