Sea Lion Pup-date!

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Sea Lion Pup-date!

Friday, 01 June 2018

Dublin Zoo is delighted to announce the birth of a California sea lion pup!

The pup, who is yet to be named, was born this afternoon June 1st to proud parents Florence and Niko and is doing well. First-time mum Florence, who was also born in Dublin Zoo, is taking to her motherly duties like a sea lion to water!

Florence and the pup will spend their first few days on land bonding before swimming lessons commence. While the mum is teaching her pup, she will swim beneath it to keep it afloat and guide it through the water. The pup should be able to hold its breath underwater for up to 2 minutes within the first few weeks.

The pup, whose sex is yet to be determined, is the first pup to be born in Dublin Zoo in six years. Dublin Zoo takes part in European Breeding programmes for California sea lions.

The keepers will be busy making sure all is well with the group this weekend and for this reason there will be no sea lion presentations.

Power in Mum-bers

It is not a coincidence that all the Dublin Zoo sea lions are born in June. Sea lions give birth at optimum times of the year, when the conditions are at their best and food is plentiful. Females have a genetic trait called ‘delayed implantation’ which means that when they have been mated, they can choose when to plant the fertilized embryo in the uterine wall depending on conditions. In the wild, females are typically mated from just one week after giving birth while they are still on land with the colony. However, they keep the embryo ‘on hold’ for around 3 months before they implant and development begins. So even though fertilization only takes 9 months, they will not give birth until around 12 months after mating when the conditions are more favourable. This means that all the females give birth roughly at the same time, giving the colony power in numbers and a greater chance of survival overall.

It is very interesting and encouraging to see that the sea lions at Dublin Zoo are also following this natural pattern!

 

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