New Sea Lion at Oregon Coast Aquarium Adjusts Well
(Newport, Oregon) – The new sea lion at the Oregon Coast Aquarium is getting along swimmingly with her new mates, say aquarium officials. She is adjusting well to her surroundings and apparently making bonds with others.
Maya, a female California sea lion came to the facility in March, and she is now 16 months old. Maya has been cavorting regularly with an older sea lion, Lea, and the two apparently have made friends. Officials say they have been demonstrating behaviors similar to that of mother and offspring.
Maya is blind in one eye - a rehabilitated animal deemed unsuitable for release to its natural habitat by the National Marine Fisheries Service because of this injury. Impaired vision would make it extremely difficult for her to hunt for food.
She initially underwent a period of quarantine to prevent the possibility of spreading communicable diseases to the other mammals. While in quarantine, animals are trained to allow mammalogists to examine them, weigh them and monitor their health. Once her quarantine period ended, she was gradually introduced to the other pinnipeds in the Aquarium’s mammal exhibit.
“We allowed Lea to visit Maya daily hoping the two sea lions would bond,” said Jen DeGroot, Aquarium mammalogist. “When we introduced Maya to the main exhibit, Lea bonded with her immediately. We continued to work on training and feeding her around the other animals. For the most part, nobody picked on her. Once in a while Quill became aggressive, but there were no injuries.”
De Groot said that when Maya and Lea formed their bond, Lea started exhibiting motherly behavior, including swimming with the younger sea lion on a consistent basis.
“Lea started making a noise we never heard her make before; we think it was a maternal vocalization,” DeGroot said.
DeGroot said mammal staff has a list of training behaviors they use to manage the animals. “Maya wowed me,” said De Groot. “She learned targeting very quickly.”
The Aquarium has six harbor seals and four sea lions in the pinniped exhibit. Public feedings are held at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. daily.
There are other new arrivals at the aquarium, aside from Maya. Oregon Coast Aquarium recently added a harbor seal named Taz, two recently hatched tufted puffin chicks, and another, mystery animal will be announced soon – set to arrive later this month via a giant Coast Guard transport plane.The Oregon Coast Aquarium is a private, not-for-profit aquatic and marine science educational facility offering a fun and interesting way to learn about Oregon’s unique coastal ecosystem. The Aquarium is dedicated to teaching marine wildlife and ocean conservation through responsible management and exhibition of marine life. For more information, visit the Aquarium’s Web site at www.aquarium.org or call (541) 867-FISH.
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