Some very lucky aquarium visitors were treated to an unusual surprise on Memorial Day this year. A California sea lion pup (Zalophus californianus) was born in full view of the morning crowd. The pup, which has yet to receive its name, is healthy and doing great.
“It is unusual for visitors to have the opportunity to witness the birth of an animal at the aquarium,” said Craig Piper, interim New York Aquarium Director and WCS Director of City Zoos. “Aquarium staff were on hand to answer questions from the guests, and our keepers and veterinarians continue to closely monitor the pup’s development. This is a special birth that has been a wonderful experience for everyone.”
The youngster is the first offspring for mother, Ariana. She is attentive and protective of the pup and is proving to be a great mom. As the two bond and the pup matures, the ability for guests to view the pair may be temporarily limited. Keepers have not yet been able to determine the pup’s gender.
California sea lions are the only species that are exhibited in all five WCS parks in New York City – the Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, Queens Zoo, and New York Aquarium. Individuals are periodically moved between the parks for breeding to ensure the population is sustainable and genetically healthy.
The New York Aquarium’s sea lion breeding program has been very successful in recent years. This is the 5th pup born at the aquarium since its first in 2010.