OdySea Aquarium gives “Pup-date” on 1st California sea lions to be born

An ultrasound showing one of the first California sea lion babies soon expected at OdySea Aquarium. (Submitted photo)

As OdySea Aquarium prepares for its first California sea lion babies to be born, get ready for the “Pup-date” until the birth and big reveal.

Expectant moms Ella, Penny and Skye will have their babies, called pups, very soon, according to a press release. California sea lions have a gestation of 11-12 months and typically give birth to their pup in June or July.

The OdySea Aquarium Animal Care team is busy preparing for their arrival, the release notes, adding that regular exams are being administered by Dr. Eric Anderson, veterinarian and animal health director.

He and the Animal Care team work together assessing the expectant mothers’ weight, behavior, body form, and appetite.  They also perform routine voluntary diagnostics on the sea lions including ultrasounds to monitor the pups’ growth and development, the release states.

A way to determine if animals at OdySea Aquarium are thriving is by observing them exhibiting behaviors such as healthy eating patterns and participating in appropriate socialization, such as procreation, the release says.

As the sea lions were approaching maturity, breeding was possible, but neither encouraged nor discouraged; staff decided to allow nature to “take its course,” notes the release, describing the species’ behavior.

Hondo is the expectant dad, which is called a sire for California sea lions that are polygamous since one dominant bull male will mate with more than one female. The bull claims his harem and breeding territory and fights other bull males trying to challenge the patriarchy.

At OdySea Aquarium, Hondo is the eldest and most dominant male, the release adds. The hierarchy within the facility’s sea lion family is well established. His role is not challenged by the two younger males on the premise.

However, fathers have no role past breeding, but the mothers are vital to rearing the pups, nursing them up to a year and teaching important skills such as swimming and foraging for food, the release details.

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