DE
05.08.15

Swimming lessons for Hellabrunn’s sea lions

In the heat of summer, the newly-born sea lions pups at the zoo are exploring the cold waters of their outdoor enclosure.

Copyright: Tierpark Hellabrunn/Marc Müller

Copyright: Tierpark Hellabrunn/Marc Müller

Copyright: Tierpark Hellabrunn/Marc Müller

Copyright: Tierpark Hellabrunn/Marc Müller

Copyright: Tierpark Hellabrunn/Marc Müller

South American sea lions are a rare sight in European zoos. Hellabrunn Zoo is therefore particularly delighted to announce the birth of baby South American sea lions this year. "Even though the breeding programme is a success almost every year, this year is particularly special with the birth of three pups," says zoo director Rasem Baban, pleasantly surprised by the baby boom. 

The little pups were born on 13, 14 and 19 July. The oldest of the three was given the name Peaches by her sponsor, Nestlé Schöller GmbH. "We are delighted with the opportunity to sponsor Peaches and to be actively involved in the development of the little female sea lion", says Nestlé Schöller in providing the sponsorship. Peaches' mother Ina was also born at Hellabrunn Zoo.

The other two pups do not yet have an adoptive parent or sponsor. The mother of the pup born on the 14 July is the 19-year-old Nixie. She watches over her newborn so carefully that zookeepers have not yet been able to determine the gender of the middle pup. The mother of the youngest pup is also 19 years old. Tania gave birth to the youngest member of the group Peggy on 19 July. As for the father or fathers of the three pups, there are two potential candidates: the sea lion bulls Pepe and Howie.

Since the females are fertile right after birth, this presents a danger in the wild that the pups may be crushed shortly after birth by adult males weighing in excess of 300 kg. As a result, Hellabrunn Zoo separates the mother and her offspring from the males during the first weeks after birth.

Once the little ones are able to complete their first manoeuvres in the indoor pool and no longer wish to remain so close to mama, they can then venture out into the outdoor enclosure to join the rest of the group where they will be taught by their mothers to gradually become accustomed to swimming in deeper water. During this process, the different characters of the little pups can be well observed. While Peggy, the youngest of the sea lion babies, is very curious and bold, Peaches appears to be more cautious and shy. And the yet to be named middle pup, takes the opportunity to venture away from his mother's side for the first time. However, all three eventually return to mama to drink milk.

About the South American sea lions at Hellabrunn Zoo:

The group currently consists of eight adults: two males and six females. The bulls Howie and Pepe are both eight years old. The eldest in the group is Steffi, who is 26 years old, followed by Doudou 21 and Tania and Nixie both 19 years old. The other adults in the group are Holly, eight years old and Ina, seven years old.

On 13 July, the sea lion girl Peaches was born. This was followed by another pup born on 14 July, whose gender has not yet been determined, and a second girl Peggy born 19 July.