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.
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.
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
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It was a pleasant surprise when Burgers' Zoo found that a Ringed Seal had been born during the night on Friday, March 1st. Zoo staff had observed several matings but were not sure if the seals were mature enough to reproduce successfully.
Burgers' Zoo is the only zoo where Ringed Seals have been born. In the past, caretakers have supplemented pups with bottle-feeding because inexperienced mothers can have difficulty caring for their first young. This year, the new pup seems to be suckling regularly, and caretakers are hopeful that the mother will be able to care for her pup.
Below: The pup, whose sex has not been determined yet, bonds with its mother.
Cruz, a disabled California Sea
Lion pup, has found a new home at Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. The Marine
Mammal Center in Sausalito, CA rescued the pup in July 2012, when he was
discovered alone on a beach in Santa Cruz. Blinded in both eyes by gunshot
wounds, Cruz recovered at the Marine Mammal Center and now joins three other
California Sea Lions at Shedd Aquarium, including a five-year old rescue
trusting relationships is the cornerstone to providing the highest quality care
for our animals, particularly in Cruz’s case,” says
Ken Ramirez, Shedd Aquarium’s executive vice president of animal care
and training. “We literally have to be his eyes, which requires a solid bond
between animal and trainer. Since he arrived at the aquarium, Cruz has been
comfortably relying on our animal care team to guide him, demonstrating
Cruz trains with a rattle. Photo credits: Brenna Hernandez / Shedd Aquarium
training is adapted to fit his strengths. Usually, caretakers train the animals to follow and
touch a visual target, rewarding them with food. This touch-target training helps
the animals to cooperate with caretakers as they do health checkups and clean.
Cruz successfully follows an auditory cue, a rattle, instead of a visual target.
“Though blind in both eyes, he has a fearless
personality and eagerness to learn – two characteristics that indicated we
could provide him with a strong quality of life through training,” says