Seal & Sea Lion

Sleepy Sea Lion Pup Takes a Nap ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

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Keepers at Zoological Society of London's (ZSL) Whipsnade Zoo have an exciting new addition to care for, with the arrival of a tiny California Sea Lion pup.

Born to first-time parents Bailey and Dominic on June 18, the two-week-old male, named Oscar, is the first pup to arrive at the zoo since dad Dominic was born in 2007.

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After giving birth outside on the edge of the Sea Lions' pool, Bailey has taken to motherhood swimmingly, and is already proving to be a doting mum to the incredibly lively pup. 

Covered in a downy fur, Oscar will grow up to 7.5 feet (2.3 m) in length and is already showing similarities with dad Dominic - who was a notoriously cheeky pup – by demanding mum’s attention at all times. 

Zookeeper Alex Pinnell said, "A new infant is not only exciting for the zookeepers, but also for the other Sea Lions as it’s something brand new for them and they all love the new addition to their group. We’re staying hands-off for now, to allow them all to get to know one another.

“The new pup is a great addition to the colony here at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo and the European conservation breeding programme for this species, and it’s brilliant for us to see Bailey being such a good mum.  

“We’ve named the pup Oscar, which we think suits his personality, and as ‘O’ is the fifteenth letter in the alphabet, we’ll always easily remember that he was born in 2015!"

Originating from the rocky coastlines of the Pacific Ocean, all along the west coast of the USA, California Sea Lions live in large colonies, led by a dominant male and his harem of female mates. 

Perfectly adapted to life on land and underwater, California Sea Lions have smooth streamlined bodies, and strong flippers to power them through the water in pursuit of their prey. Able to rotate their rear flippers forward, the Sea Lions are able to move comfortably on land where they usually breed and give birth.  

They are listed as a species of Least Concern on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List.

Visitors to the Zoo will be able to see Oscar and mum Bailey splashing around with the rest of the sea lion clan, dad Dominic, and aunt Lara. 


Sea Lion Pup Dives In at Denver Zoo

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There's a new set of flippers splashing around Colorado's Denver Zoo. A California sea lion pup, born on the evening of June 11, is the first of its species born at the zoo since 2010. Weighing in at just 20 pounds, the unnamed male pup is starting to learn how to swim with the help of his mother,  Luci.

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Photo credits: Denver Zoo

 

 Although pups can see and vocalize at birth, they usually don't learn to swim for a week or two. Keepers say that he's turning out to be very vocal, making lots of sheep-like noises, and he's starting to show a curious and independent personality in his swimming sessions with mom. 

Luci makes a wonderfully attentive mother. At night, she wakes her pup to make sure he is nursing regularly, and keeps a close eye on him when the two are at the seal pool. She's been eating 20 pounds of fish per day to ensure that the pup is receiving milk that is high in nutrients. The pup will spend his first year nursing while transitioning to fish.

Visitors can watch mother and pup exploring the zoo's Northern Shores exhibit, weather permitting. 

The pup is the second offspring for Luci and father, Nick, who welcomed female Ady in 2010. (Luci was born in Orlando, Florida at Sea World in 2001 and came to Denver Zoo two years later. Nick came to Denver Zoo from the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach, California in 2008.) 

California Sea Lions are found along the west coast of North America from Baja California to British Columbia. They are highly social animals, gathering in large groups called colonies. Their streamlined bodies allow them to swim at speeds of 25 to 30 miles per hour (40 to 48 km/hr), and their remarkable vision allows them to see well during the day and at night. They are listed as a species of Least Concern on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List.

Sea Lions are born after a 12-month reproductive cycle. This begins with a 3-month delayed implantation, when the embryo lies dormant before implanting into the uterus. This process is followed by a 9-month gestation period. The little pup has a lot of growing to do: adult males weigh 500 to 800 pounds (227 to 363 kg) as adults, while adult females are between 200 and 250 pounds (91 to 113 kg). 


Blind Harbor Seal Finding New Cues

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The Alaska SeaLife Center is currently caring for a blind Harbor Seal. He was the last Harbor Seal pup rescue of 2014, after being found at Land's End in Homer, AK. 

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Because of his blindness, the pup, named ‘Bryce’, has been deemed non-releasable by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-National Marine Fisheries Service. Veterinary staff believe he suffered head trauma that was the likely cause of his vision loss.

While Harbor Seals are normally quite shy and skittish, staff have been pleasantly surprised by Bryce's spirit of adventure. He is quick to explore pools, enrichment items, and other changes to his environment. Staff utilize Bryce's inquisitive nature and heightened reliance on sound when teaching him husbandry behaviors, such as hand-feeding and targeting.

Since he cannot see, staff rattle a "shaker" in place of a target buoy. This allows Bryce to use audio cues rather than the customary visual cue. These behaviors help Bryce in adjusting to environmental changes and make veterinary exams easier.

Continue reading "Blind Harbor Seal Finding New Cues" »


Sea Lion Shenanigans at Zoo Heidelberg

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Zoo Heidelberg, in Germany, now has the pleasure of witnessing the daily antics of two new Southern Sea Lion pups!

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The girl, ‘Arielle’, and boy, ‘Carlos’ were born in July.  Arielle was born to mother, Maike, much to the relief of the keepers, who had previously witnessed two of Maike’s stillbirths.  Carlos is the third pup born to mother, Leah, and both Sea Lion babies were sired by Atos.

The Sea Lion pups spent their first few weeks of life on land.  After their first molt, the pups began to follow their mothers into the water and start swimming lessons. Arielle and Carlos enjoy daily ventures into the pool and practice their Sea Lion skills with diligence.  As they grow, it will become easier for them to remain under water for longer periods of time.

Southern Sea Lions are classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List.  They are native to South America, along the Pacific coast of South America, from Peru to Tierra del Fuego, and along the Atlantic coast to southern Brazil.  Zoo Heidelberg works in cooperation with Yaqu-PACHA, (Society for the Protection of Aquatic Mammals in South America), in an effort to protect these wonderful creatures in their native habitat.


Another Stellar Sea Lion Pup For Parents Woody and Eden

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It's a boy!! The Alaska SeaLife Center is pleased to announce the birth of a male Steller Sea Lion pup at 12:14 pm on July 20, 2014. Parents are 14-year-old mother, Eden, and 21-year-old father, Woody. Eden and pup are healthy and doing well. The pup is not expected to be available for public viewing for a few months.
 
Eden and Woody became parents last summer with the birth of Ellie on June 20, 2013. Ellie marked the first Steller Sea Lion pup born in North American collections since the mid 1980s. 
 
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10572058_10152212168046471_3278751748280155667_oPhoto credits: Alaska SeaLife Center
 
For almost 10 years, Steller Sea Lion research has continued to be one of the largest research focuses at the Alaska SeaLife Center. It is no wonder either—Steller Sea Lion populations in western and south-central Alaska are still below historic numbers, have not fully recovered from significant population declines, and remain listed as endangered on the Federal Endangered Species List. It is not only important to study this species to ensure their survival, but to also learn more about the marine ecosystems in which they inhabit, and how they adapt to environmental change.
 

Continue reading "Another Stellar Sea Lion Pup For Parents Woody and Eden" »


Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre Helps Harbor Seal Pups Get a Flipper Up

The Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre assists ill, injured, or abandoned marine mammals with the goal of rehabilitating them for release back into their natural habitat. If you believe a marine mammal is in distress, contact the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre at 604-258-SEAL (7325). To learn more about their important rescue and rehab work visit: http://www.vanaqua.org/act/direct-action/marine-mammal-rescue. ZooBorns is proud to share some of the recently rescued pups along with their stories according to the centre's Facebook page.

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"PV1417 "Argon" was admitted this morning from Goose Spit in Comox. This adorable, slightly cross-eyed little pup is only the 2nd female pup admitted so far this season! She was also a transfer from Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society, who were kind enough to house her overnight, and administer some much needed fluids and glucose. Again a huge thanks to Harbour Air Seaplanes for donating the cargo space to fly her over to us!"

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"PV1412 "Radium" was admitted June 26 from busy Iona beach. He was found under a jetty, trying to avoid the circling eagles in the area. Thanks Matt and Melanie, and to GVRD for assistance!"

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"PV1414 "Radon" was admitted June 28 from Vancouver Island. Thank you to Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society for housing and organizing transport for this little guy, and to helicopter pilot Norm for flying him all the way to us!"

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"Curious PV1432 "Abba" is settling in well after her transfer from the Island Wildlife Natural Care Centre to our facility. The IWNCC helps to stabilize seal pups that are found farther away from our centre, playing an important part in rehabilitating these animals in their younger, more vulnerable stages. Many thanks to Marielle and the team for helping rehabilitate this pup!"


Precocious Seal Pup Mugs For Cameras at Wroclaw Zoo

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On June 10, Wroclaw Zoo welcomed a female South African Fur Seal. This is the first offspring for the zoo's Seal group and keepers are pleased to report that the pups mother is taking great care of her newborn. Mother and child have been behind the scenes to allow the pair space and time to bond. After two weeks, keepers checked the sex of the pup and administered a medical examination. The female pup is healthy and curious about her surroundings, including her keepers.

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New Year Brings a Grey Seal Pup to Brookfield Zoo

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The Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo, has announced its first birth of 2014: a Grey Seal pup that also happens to be the first of its species ever born at the zoo. The male pup was born on New Year’s Day around 7:00 a.m. He and his mother, ten-year-old Lily, will remain off exhibit for several weeks to allow them time to bond with one another. 

At birth, the pup weighed just over 25 pounds (11.3 kg), and staff estimate that he will triple or quadruple his weight in the next month. Because the mom’s milk is extremely rich, the pup will gain several pounds a day. He will nurse from Lily for about two to three weeks and then will be introduced to a fish diet.

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Grey Seal pups are born with long white fur called lanugo (pronounced la-noo-go), which is molted in two to four weeks and replaced with shorter, stiffer hair similar to that of adults. Although guests will most likely not be able to see the pup on exhibit before he molts, video of the pup can be seen on the monitor located in the Seven Seas Underwater Viewing gallery.

Brookfield Zoo is now home to six Grey Seals, the most in any North American institution accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. This birth, as well as the pup’s gender, is significant to the overall North American population, which consists of only five males and 17 females. Rita Stacey, curator of marine mammals for the Society, is the Association of Zoos and Aquariums studbook keeper for Grey Seals. In this role, Stacey documents the pedigree and entire demographic history of each individual in the Grey Seal population. These collective histories are known as the population's genetic and demographic identity and are invaluable tools that track and manage each individual cared for in North American institutions.

Grey Seals can be found abundantly in coastal waters and are divided into three separate populations: the Western North Atlantic, the Eastern North Atlantic, and the Baltic Sea.


Rescued Fur Seal Pup Finds a Home at New England Aquarium

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The staff at the New England Aquarium got a real-life gift from the "North Pole" this month - a rescued Northern Fur Seal pup arrived from the Alaska SeaLife Center. (The pup traveled by FedEx cargo plane, not Santa's sleigh!)

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Photo Credit:  New England Aquarium

ZooBorns first reported on the pup's rescue
 here.  The pup, named Chiidax, was left in a box at the Alaska Fish & Game office on the remote Aleutian Island of Sand Point with a note attached stating that its mother died while giving birth.  

Officials whisked the underwight, dehydrated pup to the Alaska SeaLife Center 500 miles away, where he quickly doubled his weight under their expert care.  Because he was hand-raised and his exact birth area was unknown, the staff determined that Chiidax could not be released back into the wild.  Luckily, the New England Aquarium has a successful breeding program for Northern Fur Seals and was eager to bring Chiidax to its Fur Seal exhibit.

Chiidax has a playmate ready to meet him at the aquarium - Kit, a female Fur Seal born in August. Aquarium officials expect Chiidax to move into their harborside Seal exhibit sometime in January.

Northern Fur Seal populations have declined over the past decades.  They are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.