It’s a girl! The keepers have named her Xana and she is already splashing around in the mother-pup pool with her mum Loreen. At the main pool, a state-of-the-art shading system has been installed, thanks to the generous support of the Hellabrunner Förderkreis sponsor circle. This new feature is designed to protect the animals from intense sunlight. A lot has been happening in the Polar World at Hellabrunn Zoo lately: Over the past few days, the two sea lion bulls Pepe and Howie have been romping around in the main pool of the habitat, while in the mother-pup tank opposite visitors have been able to observe heart-warming scenes of the adorable female pup Xana interacting with her mum Loreen. Born at the end of July, Xana recently underwent her first health check, which she passed with flying colours. She currently weighs 13.5 kg. The young pup has also taken her first swim lessons under the guidance of her mum, who arrived in Munich from Schönbrunn Zoo in Vienna in 2016. Dad Pepe, who is currently separated from the newborn, will need to be patient for a little longer until the whole group can be reunited in the main pool.
Like many visitors to Hellabrunn, Dr Hanspeter Steinmetz, deputy zoo director and veterinarian, is delighted about the new addition to the Polar World: "The little South American sea lion pup is developing well and is full of energy. Wherever she gets hungry, she makes loud bleating calls to attract her mother's attention. At the mother-pup pool, visitors to the zoo can watch Xana taking her first swimming lessons with mum, but for now the two will continue to spend most of their time indoors. The mum and her little pup often retreat to the privacy of the Sea Lion House, where they will not be disturbed by visitors and their fellow animals, and where a strong mother-pup bond will develop.”
Sea lion conservation
The birth of the South American sea lion pup at Hellabrunn Zoo represents a valuable contribution to the EAZA Ex-situ Programme (EEP), which safeguards the population of this species in captivity. In recent years, there has been a decline in births of female pups. As a result, there are now only about 200 individuals in the EEP population. Although South American sea lions are currently not listed as endangered in their natural habitat, the present populations that inhabit the coasts and offshore islands of South America need to be monitored and protected. For centuries, South American sea lions were hunted for their meat, oil and skins, resulting in a dramatic decline in the populations that have not recovered to this day. Even with the current ban on commercial hunting, the species is still affected by poaching. The animals also often end up in fishing nets as bycatch. The South American sea lions at Hellabrunn Zoo are ambassadors of their fellow species in the wild and raise awareness about the dangers of overfishing and polluting the oceans.
New shading system
The family of South American sea lions at Hellabrunn Zoo are enjoying a new structural feature installed in their habitat: a new shading system over the main pool that blends discreetly and unobtrusively with the landscape of Polar World. The system comprises four anthracite-coloured, automatically controllable canopies made of weatherproof nylon placed over the most used areas of the pool. "The installation of the shade sails for our South American sea lions is an important upgrade of the facility, in order to better protect the animals from UV radiation and its reflection on the pool floor, especially in the sunny summer months. Furthermore, the shading helps the water stay cool longer in midsummer. The shade sails can be extended or retracted as required by the animal care team, but they also have a sensor-based control system that automatically retracts the shade covering, for example in strong winds or storms,” says Rasem Baban, zoo director of Hellabrunn Zoo. "This important investment for our South American sea lions was made possible in 2022 thanks to the financial commitment of the members of the Hellabrunner Förderkreis support circle. On behalf of all the staff at Hellabrunn Zoo, I would like to say a huge thank you for your generous sponsorship.”
Unfortunately, we also have some sad news to announce from the Polar World: Ina, our beloved female South American sea lion, died a few weeks ago due to kidney failure. She was almost 15-year-old.