Guests who came to experience the new African penguin habitat at Conrad Prebys Africa Rocks this morning (Wednesday, July 26, 2017) were surprise witnesses to a unique, one-time-only event that held special significance for a local couple. Surrounded by African penguins and California leopard sharks in the Cape Fynbos habitat, Timm and Sherrie Burks—both high-level certified diving instructors—renewed their wedding vows before 20 invited family members and friends, as well as Zoo guests.
The couple met in 2012 while they were both teaching students to dive, at a dive shop in San Diego. They became friends, but shortly after that, Timm was diagnosed with cancer. Sherrie was there to support him through his treatments, and his recovery. In 2014, Timm’s cancer returned. With only a few days before his treatments were scheduled to begin, the couple decided they wanted to get married right away. They exchanged their vows at the courthouse in downtown San Diego, but without any of their family and friends present.
“Because we weren’t able to include family and friends in our ceremony in 2014, we are very thankful for the opportunity to renew our vows with the people we care about, here with us today,” said Sherrie Burks. “We love to go to the San Diego Zoo and hone our photography skills. While on safari in South Africa last year, we had the opportunity to see African penguins on the beach—so, to be married underwater in the African penguin pool is surreal.”