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.
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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