Phoenix, our California sea lion pup, was born earlier this year on June 25, weighing in at a whopping 15 pounds. In only five months, she has more than tripled her weight. Sea lion pups usually gain one to two pounds per week, so she is right on track!
Her parents, Xander and Pearl, were rescues, which is important to the zoological community because their genetics were not represented… until Phoenix was born!
Pups are well developed at birth. They can see, vocalize and even swim a little--although their movements are not well coordinated. For the first several weeks of her life, Phoenix was given many opportunities to swim in shallow pools, modeled after the shallow tide pools wild pups learn in. At about one month old, Phoenix took her first plunge into our larger presentation pool with trainers available to assist her as she tired. Now, Phoenix confidently swims amongst the other sea lions and has access to one of our larger exhibits.
Phoenix interacts daily with a variety of toys, known as enrichment, including ropes, balls, ice cubes and bubbles. She will nurse from her mother for up to a year but has recently received the option to eat live tilapia, which she chases around. She is very active throughout the day and often socializes with the other seals and sea lions in the Zoo’s care.
This winter, be sure to come by and check her out in the underwater viewing area of Aquaticus!
– Jennifer Gaddy, animal caretaker