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.