On December 11, Moody Gardens welcomed a newborn harbor seal! Mom Presley and her pup have spent their short time together bonding through activities like nursing and exploring their exhibit.
“Nursing and sleeping are healthy behaviors for a pup. Right now Riley is curious about the environment and is quickly adapting to its surroundings,” said Animal Husbandry Manager Greg Whittaker. “Since there are just more than 100 harbor seals in captivity: this birth and Riley’s health is important to the entire species.”
Riley is not only an exciting birth for Moody Gardens, but also for parents Porter and Presley who first met in 2006. Porter, who was rescued near death off the coast of Maine after being abandoned by his mother, made his home at Moody Gardens in 2001. He had been bottle fed and nursed back to heath by workers at Marine Animal Lifeline, but after an infection destroyed his eye biologists decided Porter would not be able to survive in the wild. Five years later, Presley joined the Moody Gardens family after her caretakers at Memphis Zoo determined the young harbor seal needed a companion.
Although Presley and Porter have conceived in the past, this is the couple’s first successful birth and Porter have conceived in the past, this is the couple’s first successful birth.
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Presley and Riley are on exhibit with Squirt, the blind sea lion, at the Aquarium Pyramid while the males of the seal family give the pup time to adjust. Squirt is another rescue animal who was adopted by Moody Gardens in 2010 after an experience similar to Porter’s on the West coast near Santa Barbara.
“Our seal exhibit is now a complete picture of our dedication to animal rescue and conservancy,” Whittaker said and added that addressing special needs is a key part of the Moody Gardens mission. “Riley is an adorable new addition to our family and a heartwarming gift for all of us.”