Sea Lion Pups Take Their First Swim
20th July 2023
It’s a nervous and exciting moment when a young one takes their first steps and sea lion Lara stays close by while her one-month-old pup wriggles into the water.
Awkward and uncertain to start with, the pup is soon gliding elegantly through the clear pool, closely followed by adoring mum.
The joyful moment was captured at the award-winning Yorkshire Wildlife Park, home to a popular colony of Californian sea lions, including mums Lara and Bailey, whose pups became the first born at the park when they arrived last month.
Both mums have been enjoying their pups experimental splashes and dives as they quickly took to the pool after spending their first weeks on dry land.
‘Watching the pups take their first swims was really sweet. Their mums swam beside them and it was a real crowd-pleaser,’ said Josh Luxton, Deputy Head of Aquatics, at the park at Auckley, near Doncaster.
‘They were a little nervous at first but soon it was clear they loved the water and hearing Bailey and Lara bark to their pups with encouragement was a joyful moment
‘The pups are super cute and doing really well. The visitors absolutely love them and they are definitely going to be the summer favourite this year’.
The pups now spend as much time as possible in the park’s 70-metre purpose-built sea lion pool, which has three million litres of water, under the watchful gaze of their mums, who are both 15-years-old.
Sea lion pups are always born on land and, although they can swim from birth, they need a lot of guidance and support from their mothers to develop the skills and confidence to become elite swimmers.
The pups will be weaned from mother’s milk to a diet full of fresh fish after six months.
‘Lara and Bailey are proving to be brilliant mums, displaying all their nurturing instincts as they gently guide and play with their new-borns,’ added Josh.
‘The little ones have already captivated the hearts of the staff, as the suckling echoes into the staff room, a testament to healthy little appetites’.
Lara, Bailey and the pups are kept separate from the males before being introduced into the extended colony in a few weeks.
The Point Lobos reserve at the park, which has the biggest purpose-built sea lion pool in the world, was officially opened in November 2021 by Prince Edward, Duke of Edinburgh.
‘We are immensely proud of this incredible milestone being the first ever sea lions to be born at Yorkshire Wildlife Park,’ said John Minion, CEO of the park which is home to more than 400 animals from more than 70 rare and endangered species.
The park offers visitors a unique walk-through experience, coming almost face to face with some of the world’s most rare and beautiful species including Amur Leopards and Tigers, Black Rhinos, Giraffes and the country’s largest group of Polar Bears.
It has a full calendar of events and is gearing up for the Wild Live Summer Concerts throughout August which will feature Olly Murs and The Vamps.