I can’t believe it has been a year since the staff was anxiously waiting for Callie to give birth. Last June 27th, around noon, we were blessed with a 16 lb female sea lion pup. We named her Teva (pronounced Tee – Va). We thought a beach sandal would be a good name for a sea lion. Teva has been doing great, and has become quite the diva.
As all sea lion pups do, Teva had many milestones she had to reach during her first year or so. Although Callie behaved like a great mom, we were worried she didn’t have enough milk to feed Teva, so the decision was made to hand raise her. So Teva’s first lesson was to take formula from a bottle. It wasn’t long before she got that down, and soon started calling for her bottle. Next, she had to learn to swim. We broke this down into a few steps for her. First we gave her a hose running on the ground, so she could learn to hold her breath. Then a small shallow kiddie pool, that she could wade in. Lastly, we did swimming lessons in our deep pool. Out in the wild the tide would bring pup to land, and moms would let them ride on their back if they were farther out and got tired. We had to get into the water with Teva and help her out. We would hold her if she got tired, and lift her out of the pool till she figured out how to hop out on her own. Once she had swimming down, it was time to meet some other sea lions. We first introduced her to Chloe, followed by Callie.
After that, we began to introduce her to the exhibit. She spent about a month on land, just staring at the big exhibit pool! Finally she decided to take a swim. And she swam and she swam. It took us a few hours before we got her attention again. Now she is out on exhibit first thing in the morning till about 3:30pm.
Her last big milestone will be eating fish instead of drinking a bottle. Sea lions normally wean, or start eating fish, between 6 month and about a year. She is on her way. She will take cut up fish pieces from us, and then take her bottle to wash it down. When she does start just eating fish, we will start her formal training, and she will join Chloe and Callie out for shows.
We are very happy that Teva is doing so well, and has reached the needed milestones that a pup needs. Unfortunately, on the other side of the US, in California, the wild sea lion pups born the same time as Teva, aren’t fairing as well. Many of you might have seen in the national news about the 1500 sea lion pups that have been stranding in southern California. This unusual event started around February. When Teva weighted around 60 lb at the time, these pups only weighted 20-30. No longer with their moms, they were not able to find fish on their own. It is still unknown why such an event occurred. Researchers are looking into the fish population. Did you know that you can impact the fish population? Every time you go to a grocery store or restaurant, you have a choice. If you are getting fish, you can choose a type of fish that is currently well managed. And avoid other types, which due to overfishing, might be harming other wildlife and their habitats. To learn more, go to seafoodwatch.org
To learn more about our sea lions, pinnipeds in general, and the ocean, come out to the Memphis Zoo, Saturday June 22nd, from 10 – 3. We will be having a Birthday Bash to celebrate Teva’s first birthday, and all of our sea lion’s summer birthdays. Hope to see you there!!