When four California Sea Lion pups were born in a single month at the Munich Zoo, park officials were ecstatic. The pups were each born to different mothers and include three females, named Mona, Melly, and Momo, and one male, named Max.
What’s even more amazing is that all four pups were sired by Barney, the Munich Zoo’s prolific adult male Sea Lion, who has already sired a record 28 offspring. Barney got a head start on fatherhood because he became sexually mature at age three – two or three years earlier than the average male Sea Lion.
The Sea Lion pups are already perfecting their swimming techniques in the zoo’s Polar World exhibit. Thanks to the rich milk produced by their mothers, the pups will grow dramatically in the first year of life. By the time they are fully grown, the females will weigh over 200 pounds and the males will tip the scales at up to 800 pounds.
Though Polar World’s pool is a busy place this month, it’s easy for the Sea Lion mothers to find their pups in a crowd. Mom vocalizes and waits for her pup to respond, then moves toward her pup. Just to make sure she has the right youngster, she’ll give the pup a good sniff.
California Sea Lions are native to the Pacific coast of North America, where they live on rocky and sandy beaches. This population is relatively stable or even increasing, and includes more than 200,000 Sea Lions. Though Sea Lions can be a nuisance by hanging out on piers, docks, and other man-made structures, they are protected under the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act.