A new California sea lion pup was born less than three weeks ago at Smithsonian’s National Zoo, but you’ll have to wait until late summer to see him up close and personal.
The baby sea lion was born June 23 to 14-year-old Calli in an off-exhibit area, the zoo announced in a June 28 news release. Zookeepers have seen the pup nursing, moving and vocalizing and expect the sea lion to thrive. Keepers are still determining the pup’s sex and are observing as the pup bonds with its mother.
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan recommended to breed Calli and 11-year-old Jetty, according to the zoo. The two bred in June and July 2018, but like most summer flings, the relationship was foiled by a move to New York a few months later. Jetty now lives at the Queens Zoo.
It may take several months after breeding to determine whether a sea lion is pregnant. The zoo said staff confirmed Calli’s pregnancy after an April 10 radiograph; the sea lion had been experiencing physical changes, appetite and weight gain.
The brand-new pup at the zoo is Calli’s third child and Jetty’s second.
The pup will remain off-exhibit until Calli is ready to introduce the baby sea lion to the others in the colony. Zookeepers are also ensuring the pup has the swimming skills it needs to navigate the pool in its habitat.
Visitors to the zoo can still get their sea lion fix, however. Three female sea lions — Summer, Sidney and Catalina (the new pup’s 2-year-old sibling) — will be waiting for you at American Trail.
California sea lions are native to the West Coast of North America.