New Sea Lion Pup Born at Pittsburgh Zoo

SEA LION PUP BORN AT THE PITTSBURGH ZOO & PPG AQUARIUM
(Third pup born in three years)

Media Opportunity
Friday, June 17, 2011
10:30 a.m.

Opportunity for video/photos of new pup
Henry Kacprzyk will be available for interviews.

(Pittsburgh) (June 2011)—The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is barking with excitement over the birth of our new sea lion pup!

Callie, a 6-year old California sea lion, gave birth to the pup last Friday in a behind-the-scenes area.“Both mother and baby are doing very well,” says Henry Kacprzyk, curator of Kids Kingdom. “They are communicating and the pup is nursing. Callie is a first-time mom, but she is doing very well. We think that Callie, having watched both Zoey and Maggie with their pups, has learned how to care for her pup.”

Callie’s pup is only the third sea lion ever born at the Zoo, and also the third in three years.

“Right now, she is being very protective while and she and the pup rest on the deck. She barks aggressively if she thinks keepers are getting to close,” says Mr. Kacprzyk. “The other sea lions are keeping a safe distance until Callie is comfortable with them being near her pup.”

Keepers will not interfere with Callie raising her pup unless they suspect the baby isn’t nursing or communicating with mom. The mortality rate for sea lion pups is 10 to 15 percent in the first month, so keepers and vet staff are keeping a close eye on mother and baby.

Sea lions typically mate in July and August. Gestation is nine months, but the egg isn’t fertilized until two to three months after mating, so pups are generally born in the summer, when food is more plentiful. Sea lions normally give birth to one pup, but on rare occasions, twins have been born.

The pups are born dark brown to black, but will their coats fade to light brown within a couple of weeks. They are well-developed at birth, opening their eyes and vocalizing to their mother. Within a half-hour of birth, they can to shake, scratch, walk, and groom themselves.

The next step for the pup is swimming. Sea lions typically don’t swim until a few weeks after birth.

“We will keep a watchful eye when the pup goes into the water and see how mom reacts,” says Mr. Kacprzyk. “Like new parents, we will be nervous.”

The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is open year round.  For directions, hours, tickets and group sales information, call 412 665-3640.  Visit the Zoo’s website at www.pittsburghzoo.org .  The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.  Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you and a better future for all living things.  For more information visit www.aza.org

 

SEA LION FACTS

  • Sea lion pups are born on land.
  • A sea lion mom vocalizes during the birth and immediately after her pup’s birth and her pup answers her.  This helps to establish the mother-pup bond.
  • Pups open their eyes immediately after birth. They are able to shake, groom, and walk.  They learn to swim within a couple of weeks.
  • In the wild, after a few days of nursing her pup, the mother sea lion will leave her pup to forage for food in the sea.  After she restores her energy, she returns and nurses her pup again.
  • Female sea lions generally give birth to one pup a year, though they are able to begin mating again just three weeks after giving birth
  • Callie is on a breeding loan from the National Zoo in Washington D.C.