Seal & Sea Lion

The Columbus Zoo And Aquarium Family Grows By Two With Births Of Elephant Calf And Sea Lion Pup

There was a flurry of activity overnight at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium as staff welcomed two little ones—an Asian elephant calf and a California sea lion pup! These exciting births are important milestones and offer hope for the future of these species that are at risk in their native range.

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Photo credit: Grahm S. Jones, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Asian Elephant Calf

On Wednesday, June 16, 2021 at 8:48 p.m., the Zoo welcomed the much-anticipated birth of a male Asian elephant calf in the Zoo’s Asia Quest region.

As an experienced mother, 33-year-old Phoebe is providing exceptional care to her big bundle of joy. The calf appears to be strong and was observed nursing shortly after birth. While he currently prefers to stand closely between Phoebe’s legs, the calf is also starting to be curious of his surroundings behind the scenes in the Zoo’s elephant and rhino building. He is rather vocal, sometimes emitting a low grumble, and he continues to test out his trunk though he hasn’t quite yet sure figured out how to use it to its fullest potential. Phoebe has remained patient with him and calmly responds to the care team as they observe her and her baby.

Throughout her 22-month pregnancy, the Zoo’s Animal Care team monitored Phoebe closely. Thanks to the incredible bond she shares with her care team Phoebe voluntarily participated in regular ultrasound imaging, which enabled staff to monitor the calf’s development.

The purchase of endocrine equipment in 2018 by donor, Johanna Destefano, allowed the Animal Health team to run daily progesterone tests for Phoebe so they could more accurately predict the birth. On Sunday, June 13, Phoebe’s bloodwork showed that her progesterone levels had dropped enough that the Animal Health and Animal Care teams knew that the birth would happen sometime within the next 72 hours. The Animal Care team shifted from checking Phoebe via remote camera every two hours to monitoring her around the clock and working overnight shifts in the building, where they could be ready to assist as necessary.

Phoebe’s delivery went smoothly, and the arrival of this recent calf is also offering hope for Asian elephant conservation efforts. The pairing of Phoebe and 33-year-old father, Hank, was recommended by the Species Survival Plan® (SSP), a program coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to maintain genetic diversity of threatened and endangered species in human care. While Phoebe and Hank had the opportunity to breed, this has been unsuccessful in the past and she was artificially inseminated. Artificial insemination is carefully coordinated by animal health experts and enables an elephant to be impregnated at her most fertile time. While this is still a relatively rare procedure for elephants, most successful elephant artificial insemination attempts (approximately 20 in total) have occurred with African elephants. Artificial insemination is very uncommon with Asian elephants, with less than 10 successful outcomes. Two of these scientific achievements have occurred at the Columbus Zoo (with the first time occurring in Phoebe in 2016). Attempts to artificially inseminate elephants are becoming more frequent to bolster the numbers of endangered elephants, whose populations continue to rapidly decline in their native range.

Phoebe came to the Columbus Zoo in January 2002 and resides alongside the other five Asian elephants in the Asia Quest region—males Hank (this calf’s father) and Beco (Phoebe’s son), and females Connie, Sunny and Rudy. This calf is Phoebe’s fourth calf born at the Columbus Zoo and her fifth calf overall. Her last calf, Ellie, sadly passed away a few weeks after her birth in 2018 due to a bacterial infection despite aggressive treatment by the Animal Health team and outside specialists. Just two other live Asian elephants have been born at the Columbus Zoo throughout the Zoo’s history–Bodhi, who was born in 2004 and now resides at Denver Zoo, and Beco, who was born in 2009 and is still a part of the Columbus Zoo elephant herd.

To provide Phoebe and her new baby with time to continue developing a strong bond, they will remain in a behind-the-scenes area. When they show they are ready, they will also slowly be introduced to other members of the herd. The Zoo will announce viewing information—as well as more information about the calf’s name—for guests as it becomes available.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species,™ Asian elephants are listed as endangered in their native range across southern and southeastern Asia and are in decline due to various factors including habitat loss/degradation and poaching. The World Elephant Day organization estimates there are fewer than 40,000 Asian elephants and less than 400,000 African elephants remaining worldwide.

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is a long-time supporter of several direct elephant conservation initiatives benefitting both African and Asian elephants, including annual donations to the International Elephant Foundation and several research projects and grants over the last 25 years. Many of these projects have focused on reducing human-elephant conflict and monitoring elephant populations in their native ranges. Additionally, Columbus Zoo staff leads AZA’s SAFE (Saving Animals From Extinction) Asian Elephant Program, an AZA initiative to leverage their large audiences and collective expertise to save animals from extinction. Zoo guests can also learn about elephant conservation and how they can contribute to the sustainability of this endangered species at the Zoo’s Elephant Conservation Station inside the “Vanishing Giants” building located in the Asia Quest region. Zoo veterinary staff also participate in a national Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus (EEHV) advisory group. The group aims to prevent, diagnose and treat this potentially fatal disease that affects elephants in their native range, and in human care.

Sea Lion Pup (Lovell) 7676 - Grahm S. Jones  Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Grahm S. Jones, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

California Sea Lion Pup

During the early morning hours of June 17, 2017, the Zoo’s Pinniped team in the Adventure Cove region also had cause to celebrate with the arrival of a sea lion pup!

The pup was born to experienced mom, Lovell, who will be turning 6 years old in July. Lovell is being very attentive to her nursing pup, whose sex has not yet been determined. The pup is already quite active but won’t be ready for swim lessons with mom until Lovell determines her calf is ready. For now, they will continue to bond behind the scenes.

Lovell arrived at the Zoo along with nine other sea lions (six males, three females) and four harbor seals (one male, three females) on May 17, 2020. Because the sea lions all live together for most of the year in a strong social group and there are several males, the father of the pup is currently unknown and will be determined through a blood test.

This most recent pup is the third sea lion pup ever to be born at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. The first sea lion pup, a female named Sunshine, was also born to Lovell on June 25, 2020. Sunshine still resides at the Columbus Zoo and has become independent of Lovell, making friends with other sea lions. The second sea lion pup at the Columbus Zoo was born to mom, Baby. When the team noticed that male pup, Norval, was not gaining enough weight, they stepped in to assist Baby by providing Norval with supplemental tube feedings. He continues to thrive, and Columbus Zoo guests can sometime catch him with Sunshine and another sea lion, Banana.

Guests can find the sea lions at the Zoo’s newest region, Adventure Cove, which opened in 2020. Thanks to the support of voters who passed the last levy and contributions from generous donors, the Columbus Zoo began construction in October 2017 on this brand-new, state-of-the-art region. Adventure Cove features a Pacific Northwest-inspired rocky coast and harbor setting for the sea lions and seals; Jack Hanna’s Animal Encounters Village, a colorfully-themed and immersive village highlighting animals from all around the world; and updated existing attractions.

Adventure Cove also furthers the Zoo’s commitment to sea lion rehabilitation initiatives led by institutions accredited by the AZA. The Columbus Zoo has provided financial support for years for rescue and rehabilitation efforts by The Marine Mammal Center (MMC) in Sausalito, Calif., and the Zoo’s Animal Health staff have trained with the MMC to nurse stranded and injured marine mammals back to health while expanding their knowledge of sea lions and seals.

Although California sea lions are not listed as a species of concern, the situation for sea lions in their native range is increasingly dire because there are a rising number of pup strandings. As climate change forces the mothers to hunt further away from shore, more of them are not coming back, leaving pups orphaned and unable to care for themselves. The MMC takes in many of these animals and works to restore them to health.

While Lovell and her pup will likely stay in the behind-the-scenes area for the near future to continue to bond and so that Lovell and the sea lion care team can ensure that the baby meets all of the important growth and development milestones (including swimming) before graduating into the larger habitat, guests who reserve a Behind the Marina Sea Lion Tour will have the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the pair and learn more about this intelligent, playful species. The experience is one of several new offerings designed to further inspire guests to connect with wildlife and take action to help protect these species’ future. Additional information can be found on the Zoo’s website under the Tours and Virtual Experiences page


Memorial Day Surprise for a Lucky Few as California Sea Lion Born at New York Aquarium

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.

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“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.

 


Birubi Finds Her Flippers At Taronga’s Seal Bay!

Taronga Zoo Sydney’s three-month-old long-nosed fur seal pup Birubi made her official debut at Taronga’s Seal Bay this week, just in time for the Easter School Holidays.

Birubi was born on December 21, 2020, to first-time mum Keke and was the first long-nosed fur seal pup to be born at Taronga in over twenty years. Just over three months old, Birubi has gone from strength to strength, with her size more than doubling since birth. Guests will have the pleasure of watching her find her flippers and may even be lucky enough to witness her take her first swim as she is now officially on display at Taronga’s Seal Bay!

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Although she may be pint-sized, the little pup has a very confident personality and always has, according to keepers. “She loves to follow all of us around and is so intrigued by new people and items,” says Keeper Lindsay Wright. “It has been such a pleasure to watch Keke become a mother to Birubi, it is so crucial that they continue to be advocates for their wild counterparts,” says Wright.

Before conquering the depths of Taronga’s Seal Bay, seal pups need to master a few natural behaviours, which includes learning how to swim. Thus, Birubi and mum Keke has been spending most of their time off display in Taronga’s purpose-built pupping nursery. This facility has an adjustable floor which allows keepers to lower or increase the depth of the water. This allows the pup to grow in confidence with swimming before they are exposed to deeper waters.

Like most babies, Birubi will require some downtime to rest and re-energise. The best time to see her exploring and investigating her new environment is between 9.30 am-12.30 pm at Taronga’s Seal Bay.

Birubi joins a number of new arrivals these Easter School Holidays including Humphrey the koala joey, a Tree Kangaroo joey, seven Bolivian Squirrel Monkeys and of course Amalie an Australian sea lion pup!

Guests can also take advantage of their “Dine and Discover” vouchers and receive $25 off the purchase of their Zoo ticket and animal encounters as well as $25 off any food and beverage purchase. To find out more and book your tickets, please head to www.taronga.org.au/buy-tickets


Taronga Zoo Sydney is Celebrating the Birth of an Adorable Female Long nosed Fur Seal Pup

Taronga Zoo Sydney is celebrating the birth of an adorable female Long-nosed Fur Seal pup, who made her entrance into the world on 21 December 2020.

The pup, who is now three weeks old, was born to first-time mum Keke and is the first long-nosed fur seal pup to be born at Taronga Zoo in more than two decades.

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Keepers report mum and pup are doing extremely well and are getting to know one another in the quiet surrounds of the a purpose-built seal nursery.

Seal pups are not born knowing how to swim, so Keke will spend the next little while giving some swimming lessons before the pair are ready to venture from the nursery.

The little pup was just 3.58kg when she was first born, but has been suckling well and now weighs in at just over 4kg.

Keke is a rescue seal and was bought to the Taronga Wildlife Hospital in 2012 after she was found in Sydney Harbour with injuries from a boat strike. After prolonged treatment she was deemed not to be a suitable candidate for release.

An inquisitive and curious seal, Keke has spent the last few years engaging guests at the Seals for the Wild, powered by Red Energy.

While this little pup is not yet on display, visitors to Taronga can still see Amalie, an adorable five-month-old Australia Sea-lion, who is full of fun antics.

Taronga Zoo is open every day of the school holidays with more than 4,000 animals too meet from around the Whole WILD World.

Book your tickets at taronga.org.au


A Seal-iously Cute Announcement For Taronga Zoo Sydney

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Taronga Zoo Sydney is proud to announce the birth of a very cute, very playful Australian sea-lion pup who made her first splash today at Taronga’s Seal Bay and is calling on the public to help name the new arrival.

 

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The female Australian sea-lion pup was born during the early morning of Wednesday the 30th of July to experienced Mother Nala and Father Charlie. This is Nala and Charlie’s second pup together, following the successful birth of Torre a male Australian sea-lion pup who was born in late 2018.

“Weighing in at only 7kg at birth, the little pup has increased not only in weight but has shown a massive increase in confidence over the past week. She is now constantly swimming and playing in the water, which is the type of progress we would like to see at this age” says Marine Mammals Unit Supervisor Brad McKenzie.

“We are thrilled that she is going to be out on display these spring school holidays. At the moment she is learning to vocalise and although I may be biased, but it is probably one of most adorable sounds ever!” say Mckenzie

All births at Taronga are considered significant and special moments, but the recent birth of this Australian sea-lion pup is not only incredible news for Taronga and their breeding program but is wonderful news for this native marine species.

Australian Sea-lion numbers in the wild continue to decline due to isolated populations, over-fishing and entanglement in fishing debris. That is why on this special occasion Taronga is calling on the public to help name their latest, but not so tiniest addition with the launch of seal pup naming competition.

The public will get to choose from two names; Amalie which is a tribute to the pup’s late Grandfather and Nala’s Father Mallie, or Kailani which is of Hawaiian origin and translates to sea and sky. The entry with the most meaningful reason behind their name selection will win a family pass to Taronga valued at $152 and a seal encounter and meet and greet with one of Taronga’s Marine Mammal Keepers. For more information, how to enter and T&C’s simply visit www.taronga.org.au/sealpupcomp

The pup and her mother Nala can now be seen throughout the day at Taronga Zoo Sydney’s Seal Bay at the Greater Southern Ocean Precinct these spring school holidays, where the pup will be playfully and utterly adorably exploring her new surroundings.


Baby Fur Seal Winning Fans in Poland

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An African Fur Seal born on June 17 at Poland’s Zoo Wrocław is already charming zoo guests and her care team with her winning personality.

The pup was named Zuri by her fans on social media. The name comes from Shona, a language used by the Bantu peoples in the Seals’ native African home.

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DSC_4029-Edit kotik małyPhoto Credit: Zoo Wrocław

A minor health issue resulted in Zuri requiring extra care from her keepers. Fortunately, Zuri turned out to be perfectly healthy, but her care team now has a special bond with the little Seal.

Zuri still nurses from her mother Nabi. She is the fourth African Sea Lion pup to be born at Zoo Wrocław. Her three siblings provide her with plenty of playmates. Zuri is still learning to swim, so she has yet to join the group in the main pool, preferring instead to practice swimming in a mini-pool behind the scenes.

The zoo’s Seals participate in daily training sessions, which zoo guests can watch. The training sessions allow the Seals to participate in their own medical care and permit the care team to monitor the animals closely.

African Fur Seals inhabit the coastlines of southwestern and southern Africa. For most of the year, the Seals live in the ocean, where they dive up to 600 feet to capture fish. Fur Seals come ashore only during the breeding season.

African Fur Seals are not threatened at this time, but other marine species are under pressure from reduced fish populations, caused when humans overharvest fish. Fur Seals are still legally hunted in Namibia for their fur and other body parts.


Sea Lion Pups at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium

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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.

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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.


Rescued Sea Lion's Amazing Journey to Oklahoma City Zoo

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A California Sea Lion pup’s amazing journey includes her rescue near Santa Barbara, a three-month stay in a rehabilitation center, release back into the Pacific, crossing a busy street, visiting a hotel lobby, and an eventual arrival at the Oklahoma City Zoo.

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Isla and Zoo Trainer Sierra at Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute (1 of 1)Photo Credit: Oklahoma City Zoo

The pup, named Isla, has experienced a lot in her 11 months of life. She was most likely born last spring off the California coast and was found emaciated and malnourished at the Santa Barbara Harbor in November 2018. When concerned citizens called the Channel Islands Marine and Wildlife Institution (CIMWI), volunteers came to rescue the little pup.

The pup was transported to CIMWI’s facility to be rehabilitated in hopes of returning her back to the wild. After 90 days at the center, which included medication, increased fish intake, and daily health checks, Isla was released 25 miles offshore around other wild Sea Lions.

Nine days later, Isla swam the 25 miles back to Santa Barbara Harbor, got out of the water, crossed a busy street, and made her way into the lobby of the Alma Mar Motel. Once again, the CIMWI staff was contacted to rescue Isla.

Once back at CIMWI, the staff found that in the nine days Isla had been back in the ocean, she had lost nine pounds, meaning that she was unable to forage for herself in the wild. After weeks of observation, it became clear that Isla was more habituated to humans than she was to the other marine mammals in the institute’s care. CIMWI caretakers were certain that Isla would not thrive in the wild, so for her safety and well-being, she was deemed non-releasable.

Once it was decided that Isla could not return to the wild, CIMWI contacted National Marine Fisheries Service (a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA) to locate a zoo or aquarium, accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), that could become Isla’s permanent home, and the Oklahoma City Zoo was selected. Two zoo staff members went to Santa Barbara to bring Isla to Oklahoma City in mid-May.

“By becoming a forever home for Isla and providing her with care, veterinary monitoring and an enriching environment, not only are we ensuring her survival, but we are also safeguarding the future of her species,” said Sierra Chappell, lead marine mammal trainer. “Her energetic spirit and inspiring story will resonate with Zoo guests and create a connection that will last a lifetime.”

Considered to be highly intelligent animals, California Sea Lions’ survival is based on the health of the ocean’s ecosystem. Sea Lions are threatened by plastic pollution and are vulnerable to the effects of climate change on ocean currents, which impact their fish prey abundance. They are also victims of bycatch in fisheries. The Oklahoma City Zoo participates in AZA’s Species Survival Plan for California Sea Lions.

 



 


Two Harbor Seal Pups Join the Pod at Zoo Berlin

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On a recent morning, keepers at Zoo Berlin began their daily inspection of the Harbor Seal habitat. One of the keepers’ first tasks is to perform a head count of the seven animals under their care. As they began to count, they noticed not seven pairs of dark eyes staring back at them, but eight! It soon became clear that female Shiva, age 23, gave birth to a pup during the night. A few days later, the same scenario: now there are nine Seals in the habitat! This time Molly, age 13, is the proud mother of a brand-new pup. 

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Csm_08_fb93131d5ePhoto Credit: Zoo Berlin

Zoo Berlin is home to a large extended family of Harbor Seals. Male Leopold, age 21, sired two pups last year. His sons Gregor and Herbert are still part of the group, which also includes females Lara, age 18, and Yohanna, age one. 

Harbor Seals have a gestation period of up to eleven months. Pups are born with the same smooth fur as the adults and can swim almost from birth. 

Harbor Seal pups are weaned at around two months old. “Seal pups are much more vulnerable to attack on sand banks than they are in the water, so they have to grow up quickly,” explains Zoo and Tierpark Director Dr. Andreas Knieriem. “Before too long, the newborn Seals will be almost indistinguishable from their parents.”

In the wild, these aquatic mammals are found all over the northern hemisphere – on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts as well as in the North Sea and the Baltic. However, they are very rare on the northern European coasts. Commercial hunting of Harbor Seals was banned several decades ago in most countries around the world. Only native peoples are permitted to hunt these seals for subsistence hunting.


Sea Lion Pups Double the Excitement at UK Zoo

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ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s keepers have a couple of exciting new additions to care for, with the arrival of two California Sea Lion pups.

Adventurous male pup, Hanno, was born to first-time mum, Lara, on June 10. Laid-back male, Oakley, was born to second-time mum, Bailey, on June 23.

After giving birth at the UK’s largest Zoo, ten-year-old, Lara, and eleven-year-old, Bailey, have taken to motherhood swimmingly and are already proving to be doting mums to the lively pups.

Team Leader, Tim Savage, is overjoyed at the new arrivals and said, “The first pup was immediately so curious and adventurous, we decided to name him Hanno, after the fifth century oceanic explorer. At night he goes on little missions and explores the sea lion house!”

“Lara’s always been the cheekiest member of the group, but she’s so attentive with Hanno, never letting him out of her sight. Every time Hanno tries to go near the water, she pulls him back. This isn’t Bailey’s first pup, so she’s much more confident and relaxed. She leaves Oakley to snooze while she goes off for a swim.”

Tim continued, “They’ve both had a little splash in the pool, but neither of the pups are strong swimmers yet. Over the next month they will learn to dive, and practice holding their breath, and soon visitors will see them confidently swimming around the pool with their mums, and dad Dominic.”

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4_Hanno (2)Photo Credits: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo (Images 1-4: Hanno /Images 5-8: Oakley)

Covered in fur, the pups will eventually grow to be over two meters long. The new pups are a valuable addition to the colony of California Sea Lions at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo and the European conservation breeding programme for the species.

Originating from the rocky coastlines of the Pacific Ocean, along the west coast of the USA, California Sea Lions (Zalophus californianus) live in large colonies, led by a dominant male and his harem of female mates.

Tim shared, “After a birth, male Sea Lions guard their harem of females, which means they do not leave to get food. Although Dominic has no competition and plenty of food available to him here, he acts in exactly the same way, fasting for a month and making a lot of noise to show this is his territory! Don’t feel too bad for him though, he prepared for his fast by eating lots before the births!”

Summer visitors to ZSL Whipsnade Zoo will be able to see Hanno and Oakley learning to swim alongside the rest of the Sea Lion clan. Visit www.zsl.org to find out more.

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