Seal & Sea Lion

Sea Lion Pup Reunited With Mother After Receiving Special Care

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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.

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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.

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Rescued Harbor Seal Amputee Successfully Rehabilitated at Mystic Aquarium

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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.

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Photo Credit: Mystic Aquarium

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Pacific Harbor Seal Pup Rescued at SeaWorld San Diego

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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.

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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.  

Surprise! A Ringed Seal Pup Born at Burgers' Zoo

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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.

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Below: The pup, whose sex has not been determined yet, bonds with its mother.

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Photo credits: Burgers' Zoo

Learn more about Ringed Seals after the fold.

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Blind California Sea Lion Finds Home at Shedd Aquarium

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Tanner touches his nose to a visual target.

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 named Tanner.

“Building 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 incredible progress.” 

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Cruz trains with a rattle. Photo credits: Brenna Hernandez / Shedd Aquarium

Cruz’s 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 Ramirez.

Read more about Cruz and Tanner after the fold.

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Bon Voyage Baby Spooner!

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Mystic Aquarium’s animal rescue team released a 6-month-old female Gray Seal named Spooner into the waters of Blue Shutters Town Beach in Charlestown, R.I., on Friday, August 24. Mystic Aquarium rescued Spooner on March 8, 2012, at Breakwater Village in Narragansett, R.I. after finding her with numerous infected wounds on her face and neck and a fractured tooth. She has since recovered after being treated with wound care, antibiotics and dental surgery. Spooner was named in honor of Dr. Tracey Spoon, Mystic Aquarium’s research scientist who passed away unexpectedly in May.

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Photo credit: Mystic Aquarium

 


First California Sea Lion Pup for Attica Zoological Park

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This little California Sea Lion was born at Attica Zoological Park, in Athens, Greece on June 25. This is the zoo’s first baby of this species, born to mom Mara and father Charlie.

Around 8:00 p.m. on June 25, the expectant Mara started behaving in a strange way, moving around in circles and making funny noises. Immediately her keepers understood she was ready to give birth. A few hours later, at 11:25 p.m., she became a mother for the second time to a beautiful pup. For safety reasons, the father was moved to another pool, giving space to the mother and baby.

California Sea Lions, while now far more protected than before, are still seen as a threat to fish stocks by those who make their living from the fish Sea Lion feeds upon. They continue to be hunted for their skin and blubber. And now water pollution is becoming a greater factor in their survival, as it threatens their habitat.

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Photo Credit: Attica Zoological Park


Sea Lion Pups make waves at Belfast Zoo

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Northern Ireland's Belfast Zoological Gardens is celebrating the birth of two California Sea Lion pups.  Solo, the male pup, was born to Stella on June 4 and Twirl, the female pup, was born to Arielle on June 11.

Proud dad of both pups is 20-year-old Wesley, who arrived in Belfast in 2007 and has since fathered 11 pups!

Mark Challis, zoo manager, said “We are all delighted with the arrival of our Sea Lion pups and they are always a favorite with visitors!  They are highly intelligent and they are definitely one of the noisiest species we care for here at the zoo.”

All California Sea Lions in European zoos are managed as part of a cooperative European breeding program and many of the pups born at Belfast have moved to zoological collections around the world. 

The main threat facing California Sea Lions is from fishermen, who regard them as competition for fish stocks.  They are also hunted for their skin and blubber and water pollution is increasingly becoming a threat to their habitat.

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Photo Credits:  Belfast Zoo




8 Pound Pup is First in Breeding Program for Rare Species

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Babies often arrive at the most inopportune times! Tuesday night just before midnight, New England Aquarium’s overnight engineer, realized that Ursula, a sweet 14-year-old Northern Fur Seal, might be in labor. She immediately made a phone call, and shortly thereafter, several marine mammal trainers and veterinary staff arrived. They found Ursula in a corner with her newborn pup, which was searching for its mother’s nipples. With some maternal direction and repositioning, the dark brown, 8 lb. pup finally found mother’s milk and settled down for some nursing and bonding. Kathy Streeter, the Aquarium’s marine mammal curator, was thrilled with Ursula’s maternal instincts and care, particularly since this was her first pup.

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Baby Fur Seal and Mom NEAQ 1Photo and video credits: New England Aquarium

The birth was the first in the Aquarium’s dedicated program for rare Northern Fur Seals. The newborn is only the 13th Northern Fur Seal to be found in an American aquarium or zoo. Seven of those animals make the New England Aquarium’s new, harbor-side pinniped exhibit their home. Several years ago as the Aquarium planned for the construction of its $11 million New Balance Foundation Marine Mammal Center, staff made a strategic decision to gather Northern Fur Seals from around the country and start a dedicated breeding program.

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Four Sea Lion Pups Share Spotlight –and the Same Dad

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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.

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