Look who splashed down on American Trail this summer! Meet Charger, our new 1.5-year-old sea lion who came to us from the Brookfield Zoo in Illinois. When they were searching for a new home for Charger earlier this year, our American Trail team thought he would be an excellent fit for our colony. A few months ago, he joined adult females Calli, Summer and Sidney and Calli’s female pup, 1.5-year-old Celia, on exhibit at the sea lion habitat.
Sea lions are very social animals and tend to not have a defined hierarchy. This made introductions smooth and uneventful. Charger is very confident in himself and showed little to no fear when being introduced to his new environment, keepers and habitat-mates.
Although Charger and Celia are the same age, they are quite easy to tell apart. Charger’s body has a broad build—his head is shaped more like a block, while hers is more narrow—and he is larger than she. He is, however, smaller in size compared to the adults, and his fur has a darker hue. As he gets older and reaches sexual maturity, the differences between Charger and our females will be much for obvious. Eventually, he will be at least twice as large as the adult females and will develop a thick “bump” on his head, known as a sagittal crest.
In the wild, sea lion pups can often be seen playing with and interacting with each other. California sea lions have a specific breeding season and tend to give birth within a couple of months of each other. By welcoming Charger to the Zoo, we are providing him and Celia with the social interaction that mimics what they would experience in their natural habitat.
All of the sea lions are fairly active throughout the day. Charger, especially, plays with Celia often and follows her mother Calli around the habitat. He seems to have a fondness for enrichment toys as well, tossing them around even when they are not filled to the brim with fish and squid! His enjoyment of interacting with others extends to our keeper team as well. Charger has proven to be intelligent and attentive during husbandry training sessions. We are happy with the progress he has made on learning new behaviors that enable us to monitor his health.
One of his favorite spots seems to be the underwater viewing window, which is also one of Sidney’s favorite places to play. See if you can spot who’s who! Mid-morning and mid-day are typically the best times to watch them in action.