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.
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.