Visitors to Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium can now see two new Sea Lion pups at the zoo’s Owen Sea Lion Pavilion.
The first pup was born June 12 to nine-year-old Gemini. Another was born on June 18 to Coco, who was born at Omaha’s Zoo and Aquarium in June 2009. The sexes of the pups are currently unknown.
The California Sea Lion pups and their mothers are currently on exhibit with the father of both pups, 15-year-old Chino. Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium currently has eight Sea Lions: two males, four females and the two new pups.
Visitors noticed that a significant amount of water has been drained from the Sea Lion’s pool. According to the zoo, this was done in preparation for the birth of the pups and will remain at a lower depth until both pups have learned to swim in deeper water. The zoo follows this routine each year in anticipation of pupping season. Mothers begin teaching their pups how to swim as early as a few days old by pulling them into the water for a short period of time for several days, each time getting farther and deeper into the water.
In 2020, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium will open Owen Sea Lion Shores, a new sea lion habitat that will include elements such as natural boundaries, underwater viewing and state-of-the-art holding facilities complete with a diet prep area and holding pools. The area will include a natural beach, which will allow females to give birth on land and gradually introduce their pups to the water as they would in their natural habitats.
An integral part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP) for Sea Lions includes the management of genetic diversity within the zoo network’s population. The SSP evaluates the population status and makes breeding recommendations. There are typically 15-20 breeding recommendations annually for Sea Lions, however, that changes based on the population status.
California Sea Lions (Zalophus californianus) are commonly found along the coastlines of the Pacific Northwest region. Males can weigh between 700 to 1,000 pounds while females can weigh between 200 to 250 pounds.