[quote]Maile is proving to be a great mom with strong maternal instincts.” — Michael Muraco, Animal Care Director, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom[/quote]
Vallejo, CA, USA (April 23, 2012) — A female Pacific harbor seal pup was born early Saturday morning at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom’s Seal Cove exhibit, the first seal pup born at the park in eight years. The 20-lb. black, grey and white spotted pup, born to nine-year-old Maile, a first time mother, and 10-year-old male Dyson, was named “Lily” by staff in honor of her birth over Easter weekend.
“We expected the birth to happen any time over the past few weeks,” said Michael Muraco, animal care director. “Seal births are particularly unique in that the pup starts swimming within a few minutes after birth. Within a few hours, they’re already exploring.”
The Seal Cove exhibit was closed to the public the day of the birth, but the park posted a photo of the pup via social media. The exhibit reopened on Easter Sunday to the delight of guests who had an opportunity to see the newborn swim, sleep and nurse.
Pacific harbor seals, also known as true seals, are pinnipeds, and differ from sea lions in a number of ways, including having shorter, stouter flippers and no visible earflaps. When swimming, they use their hind flippers to propel through the water. Though not endangered, harbor seal colonies in the San Francisco Bay Area are vulnerable to human disturbance, climate change and human-produced pollutants.
Pups double their weight within the first four to six weeks nursing on the rich mother’s milk, which is about 45 percent fat, and then is weaned. In the wild, a mother will leave its pup after the first month to finish growing and fend for itself.