When you visit the Memphis Zoo this spring, you might notice three new faces at Northwest Passage. We’re proud to announce the addition of three juvenile female sea lions!
“Remy,” “Catalina” and “Buttercup” join the Memphis Zoo’s collection. The three girls, who were all born at SeaWorld San Antonio, arrived at the Memphis Zoo in June 2016. They remained off-exhibit while they adjusted to their new home, exhibit-mates and keepers.
“During the time they were off-exhibit, they learned basic behaviors that allow our trainers to work with them in close proximity,” said Courtney Janney, curator of large mammals. “Buttercup, the youngest, was the first to be introduced to our existing group of sea lions, and Remy and Catalina were introduced in February.”
According to Janney, the introductions went very well – so well, that visitors can now see all eight sea lions on exhibit before 10 a.m. and after 3:30 p.m. Keeper staff have noticed that the animals form a cohesive unit, especially after the Zoo is closed.
“When our animal care staff checks in on the group remotely, it is not uncommon to see everyone sleeping in a big, eight sea lion pile, that is reminiscent of the photos you see of sea lions lounging on California piers,” explained Janney.
"Buttercup," "Remy" and "Catalina" lounging in their outdoor pool area
The next step in acclimating the new girls is keeper interaction and training. This will allow keepers to focus on training our newer sea lions the behaviors they’ll need to be successful at the Memphis Zoo. As a result, the sea lion shows that are held daily will be a little different from the “norm.”
“Our visitors love our sea lion shows, and they’re not going anywhere,” said Janney. “They will, however, be different for a period of time, as our new girls have to learn the expansive repertoire of behaviors our current animals exhibit during a show.”
Although occasionally shorter, the 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. shows will remain relatively unchanged; our seasoned sea lions will still perform the majority of the behaviors, while a trainer works with one of the new additions. The 1:30 p.m. show will be a training session.
“Sessions might be a little shorter for a time,” explained Janney. “It’s important that Remy, Catalina and Buttercup get used to working with a trainer on exhibit with crowds present. It does take time to learn the patience to engage with a trainer for 10 to 15 minutes at a time.”
According to Janney, this is a thrilling addition to the Memphis Zoo and the Northwest Passage family.
“We are so excited to introduce the next generation of sea lions to the Memphis Zoo,” said Janney. “We hope people will swing by Northwest Passage this spring and summer to meet the new girls. We know everyone will enjoy watching them learn and grow over the next several years!”