Seal & Sea Lion

Northern Fur Seal Pup Bonds with Mom at New England Aquarium


The New England Aquarium certainly has something to cheer about. A Northern Fur Seal pup was born late on Tuesday, August 6. The pup's mom, Ursula, was observed going into labor by an engineer. When trainers arrived, Ursula had given birth to the pup. By the morning, the two were observed calling back and forth to each other, a sign that they had bonded well overnight.


The pup is Ursula's second. Ursula demonstrated great maternal instinct with her first pup, born in July of 2012. Ursula has been tolerant of trainers being near her pup, but they don't want to break that trust by handling the pup too early. Subsequently, the sex and weight of the pup has not been determined.

New England Aquarium is home to the largest collection of the the rare Northern Fur Seals in North America. These animals are characterized by a thick coat of fur that help to keep them warm in the cold waters of their native habitat, the Northern Pacific. Despite being protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the world population has continued to decline. They are currently listed as Vulnerable.

Seal Pup Birth Long Awaited at Zoo Osnabrück


In the early morning hours of July 4, Germany's Zoo Osnabrück welcomed the first Seal pup to be born there in five years. The little one with the coal- black eyes is already swimming with the others, but still likes to cuddle extensively with its mom, Bee. The sex has not yet been determined, so the baby has no name yet. 

"We are very pleased that the birth went so well. The baby is very attentive and swims very well," said head staff member Kirsten Bischoff. The 14-year-old mother has gotten through her third birth well. This was the first baby for six-year-old father Max, but Bee has not let him get close to the new baby. As soon as Bee sees Max, she protectively nudges the baby away.

Seal w mom

Seal kiss

Seal swim

Photo Credit: Photo 1,3: Zoo Osnabrück, Photos 2, 4: Cindy Schrooten 

Keepers have left the two in peace thus far to bond so they don't have a weight yet, but they estimate the pup is between 22-26 pounds (10-12 kg), about one tenth of Mom's body weight. Seals nurse their young mostly on land, so Bee brings her baby on shore to feed. The pup will suckle for the first month or so before the mother's milk is supplemented with fish.

A Second Seal Pup for Point Defiance Zoo


The Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium welcomed its second Pacific Harbor Seal pup in two weeks when mom Qilak delivered a healthy baby on June 10.  Another female, Shila, delivered a pup on June 2.

Seal (1)

Seal (2)

Photo Credit:  Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium


The pair of pups made their public debut on June 20.  Zoo keepers report that Shila and Qilak are taking excellent care of their newborns.  The newest pup weighed 22.6 pounds (10.3 kg) at birth.

In the wild, Seals feed on a wide variety of fish.  You can see mother Seal eating fish in the video above.  For now, of course, both pups get all their nutrition through their mothers’ milk.


A Bouncing Baby Boy for Aquarium of the Pacific

Shelby, a popular Harbor Seal at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California, gave birth to a male pup on May 1.  The 32 pound (14.8 kg) pup is the second for Shelby and her mate, Troy.




Photo Credit:  Hugh Ryono

The new pup is much larger and hungrier than Shelby’s first pup.  According to keepers, Shelby has to end nursing sessions herself, rather than waiting for the pup to finish.  Keepers have been giving Shelby extra fish so that she can produce enough nutritious milk for her growing pup.

Keepers also report that this pup is unusually vocal.  He calls loudly to get his mom’s attention, then enjoys floating on his back next to Shelby.

Sea Lion Pup Welcomed at Seneca Park Zoo

Sea lion pup at SPZ (Kelli O'Brien) (1)

The Seneca Park Zoo in Rochester, New York welcomed a California Sea Lion pup on June 1 to first-time mom Marina.  While the pup’s gender is not yet known, it is the 18th baby born at the zoo this year. 

Sea lion pup at SPZ (Kelli O'Brien) (4)

Sea lion pup at SPZ (Kelli O'Brien) (3)

Sea lion pup at SPZ (Kelli O'Brien) (2)
Photo Credit:  Kelli O'Brien

Four-year-old Marina came to the zoo in 2011 after being stranded on a beach in Los Angeles County, California.  The pup’s father was Puff, who arrived from Sea World Orlando in 2007.  Puff died last fall.

California Sea Lions are native to the Pacific coast of North America, from Alaska to Mexico.  Sea Lion populations are not threatened, but they are protected from hunting and harassment by the Marine Mammal Protection Act.  Sea Lions’ intelligence and trainability have led to their use by the United Sates Navy to detect underwater mines.

Got Blubber? Seal Pup Packs It On


A Pacific Harbor Seal born at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is strong and healthy but needs to gain a layer of blubber before it can go on exhibit in a few weeks, according to its keepers.  The pup, a male, is in an off-exhibit area with his mother, eight-year-old Shila. 

A layer of blubber is important so the pup can regulate his own body temperature. 



Photo credit: Jesse Michener/Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

“Shila is showing wonderful maternal instincts,” zoo general curator Karen Goodrowe Beck said. “She’s pretty calm. She’s a great mom.”

The pups’ father is Q, a 14-year-old male who spent about a year at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium on a breeding loan from the Seattle Aquarium. He returned to Seattle last month.

Right now the pup looks bigger than he is.  He weighs only 23 pounds, which is just 12% of Shila’s 180 pounds.  As an adult, he could weigh up to 375 pounds.

Pacific Harbor Seals are found north of the equator in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. On the West Coast, they range from Alaska to Baja California. They live in near-shore coastal waters and frequent rocky islands, sandy beaches, mudflats, bays and estuaries.  Pacific Harbor Seals are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

See more photos of the pup below the fold.

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Sea Lion Pup Thriving at Prague Zoo

Prague Sea Lion 1

The Prague Zoo's Sea Lion collection recently grew by one with the birth of a little baby girl. The female, who is not yet named was born to mother Ababa. Weighing just 11 and a half pounds at birth, the pup is growing rapidly. She has put on two pounds to bring her weight up to a little under 13 and a half pounds. Just yesterday, Prague Zoo experienced major flooding which incapacitated the lower section of the institution. Zoo officials scrambled to relocate the affected animals. You can learn more about the flooding and find out how to help here and here.

Prague Sea Lion 2
Photo Credits: Anthony Vaidl / Prague Zoo

Sea Lions, a type of marine mammal, are found through much of the world's oceans through both the Northern and Southern hemispheres. Sea Lions have an interesting reproductive cycle which lasts 12 months. After mating, there is 3-month delayed implantation followed by a 9-month gestation. Communication between mother and offspring is vital in this species. Large groups of female Sea Lions beach together to give birth. Females return to the sea to feed for extended periods of time leaving their pups to socialize with other infants. When they come back to land mother and offspring must be able to distinguish each other's calls from the rest of the pairs on the beach in order to reunite.


Sea Lion Pup Reunited With Mother After Receiving Special Care

Milwaukee Sea Lion 1

On April 17th the Oceans of Fun exhibit at the Milwaukee County Zoo welcomed its newest resident, a female California Sea Lion pup. Born to mother Sonoma and father Slick, the newborn girl has been named Talise, which is a Native American name meaning "beautiful waters." While Talise was a healthy weight of 17 pounds at birth and is now thriving, her life wasn't without some struggles early in life.

Sonoma is a first time mother, and like in many species, Sea Lion mothers often lack the skills needed to nurse and take care of their first pup. When Sonoma failed to nurse Talise upon birth, the Oceans of Fun staff and Milwaukee Zoo veterinarian team jumped into action to provide the newborn with 24 hour care. They monitored the pup intently and provided her with specially developed formula to serve as a substitute for Sonoma's milk. Attempts were also made to provide Talise with a surrogate, experienced mother Makika, who unfortunately did not accept little Talise.

Milwaukee Sea Lion 2

Milwaukee Sea Lion 3
Photo credits: Milwaukee County Zoo


Thankfully, after just a week of care, keepers were able to reunite Talise with Sonoma who is now nursing like a pro. Keepers are reporting that the pair are doing well and developing a strong bond. Talise and Sonoma have been communicating vocally day and night, a strong sign that they are developing a proper relationship. The first few days of life are vital in a Sea Lions life, and keepers are happy with the progress that has been made in the vital connection between mother and offspring.

See and learn more after the fold!

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Rescued Harbor Seal Amputee Successfully Rehabilitated at Mystic Aquarium


Starting on March 22, this 8-month-old female Harbor Seal pup will be seen by the public at Mystic Aquarium’s Aquatic Animal Study Center for a limited time, after seven months of rehabilitation and a flipper amputation. "She has a really inquisitive and interested personality and she is very interactive with the environment around her," said Mystic Aquarium veterinarian Allison Tuttle, who supervises the pup's treatment and care.

Known as Pup 49 because of her rehab ID number, she was admitted to Mystic Aquarium’s Seal Rescue Clinic on July 16, 2012, after being rescued by the New England Aquarium 10 days earlier. Having been attacked by an older seal, she was terribly weak when found, with wounds all over her body. She was approximately one to two months old at the time, and diagnosed with a respiratory ailment  and a swollen left rear flipper. Despite intensive treatment for the flipper, the little pup developed a life-threatening infection in her bone and ankle joint that continued to get worse with time.

On November 26, 2012, Mystic Aquarium’s veterinary team performed surgery to amputate Pup 49’s infected flipper. The surgery was successful, but she was deemed non-releasable by NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service because she is a weaker, less agile swimmer and requires more effort to haul out of the water compared to seals with two rear flippers.


Seal 1 05

Seal 06

Seal 07
Photo Credit: Mystic Aquarium

Read more on this pup's story after the fold:

Continue reading "Rescued Harbor Seal Amputee Successfully Rehabilitated at Mystic Aquarium" »

Pacific Harbor Seal Pup Rescued at SeaWorld San Diego

Seal 1

In early March, SeaWorld San Diego rescued a young Pacific Harbor Seal, estimated to be only days old, from a local beach. The animal, which appeared to be separated from its mother, is now being bottle-fed and cared for behind the scenes by SeaWorld's rescue team. SeaWorld experts expect the seal to make a full recovery and be returned to the wild. 

So far this year, SeaWorld San Diego has rescued more than 100 marine mammals.

Seal 2


Photo credits: SeaWorld San Diego

Pacific Harbor Seals are born in February through April, and are weaned at four weeks old. A pup can swim at birth, but will ride on its mother's back when tired. Weighing just twenty to twenty-four pounds at birth, Pacific Harbor Seals grow to an adult size of up to 300 pounds.