Double The Fun: Two Grey Seals Born At Brookfield Zoo

WBBM Newsradio Staff
January 24, 2020 - 2:38 pm
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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Guests will soon being seeing double at Brookfield Zoo's Pinniped Point.

Two grey seals were born on Jan. 9 and 10 at Brookfield Zoo. 

And while the female pups are currently behind the scenes bonding with their mothers, Lily and Tasha, and practicing their swimming skills, they are expected to may their public debut sometime in early spring.

A 12-day-old grey seal pup born on January 10 is practicing her swimming skills behind the scenes at Brookfield Zoo under the watchful eye of her mom Tasha.
Jim Schulz/Chicago Zoological Society

This is the fourth successful birth for Lily, who turns 16 on Jan. 25, the zoo said in a statement. Her previous offspring—all males born in 2014, 2016, and 2017—are currently on breeding loans at other accredited North American zoos. The other pup is the first successful birth for 16-year-old Tasha.

The two moms are half-sisters and arrived at Brookfield Zoo in November 2007. The sire of both newborns is 19-year-old Kiinaq, who arrived at Brookfield Zoo in 2018. 

“These are the first female grey seals to be born at Brookfield Zoo and are very significant, because they will help us maintain a healthy and genetically diverse self-sustaining population for the species in professional care,” said Rita Stacey, curator of marine mammals for CZS, in a statement.

The recent arrival of Kiinaq to Brookfield Zoo was based on a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Grey Seal Species Survival Plan.

The two pups weighed 32 and 36 pounds at birth and have been gaining several pounds a day since—nearly tripling their weight in their first two weeks of life. By the time they are weaned in about a week, they will have nearly quadrupled their birth weight. Grey seal pups need to grow quickly because once weaned they are on their own and need to be able to fend for themselves as they go out to sea to hunt for food.

“Once the pups at the zoo begin to wean from their mothers, the marine mammal care staff will begin offering fish to the young grey seals,” Stacey said. “At that time, the pups will begin to establish their relationships with the care team, which is important for the animals’ overall healthcare and well-being.”

Although guests probably won’t see the pups in the outdoor habitat at Pinniped Point prior to their fur molting, they can view updated photos and video on the zoo’s website at CZS.org/GreySealPups or on Brookfield Zoo’s Facebook page.