Curious and friendly: A Northern fur seal is born at Moscow Zoo

August 30
Parks and pedestrian areas

A Northern fur seal pup was born at the Moscow Zoo on 19 August. These eared seals are listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as vulnerable. With its mother Yushka, the pup is staying in the inner enclosure where it is gaining strength and learning to swim and move about on land.

“The birth of a Northern fur seal pup is a very happy and important event for us, because they rarely breed in captivity. This is our female Yushka’s third pup. She is an experienced mother and takes good care of her offspring. Zoologists have already determined the sex of the pup; it is a male. Until it reaches 5 months, it will be feeding on its mother’s milk, and then it will try fish and squid,” said Svetlana Akulova, General Director of the Moscow Zoo.

The infant now weighs five kilogrammes. Its fur is much darker that an adult seal’s, but after its first moult, in three to four months’ time, it will become silvery grey. The fur of Northern fur seals is very warm, durable and water resistant. Because of these properties, fur seals were subject to uncontrolled commercial hunting until the early 20th century, resulting in a dramatic fall in the population. The situation has now stabilised. The Moscow Zoo has been working to preserve these animals for many years.

The Moscow Zoo is home to a large family of Northern fur seals. The family is headed by 15-year-old male Pirat. The others are two adult females Yushka and Sparta, a female adolescent Dori and the pups Roger and Grace.

According to the zoo press service, seals are among the most active and curious inhabitants of the zoo. Experts hold daily training sessions with them to make sure that the animals have the physical and intellectual exercises that are necessary for their wellbeing and health. The seals trust their keepers, but they remain independent, maintaining a ‘business-like’ relationship with people and requesting that fish is given to them at all times. They are also interested in visitors. When there are many people near their enclosure, they can give swimming and diving performances.

Visitors can watch the family of Northern fur seals in the open enclosure located in the new part of the Moscow Zoo (near the bridge that connects the old and new parts).

This year, the new additions included rare Dalmatian pelicans and bush dogs, as well as maned wolves, one of the rarest canidae species. In March, Humboldt penguins were born and now the Moscow Zoo is home to Russia’s largest group of these birds: nine breeding pairs and over a dozen birds of various ages, from chicks to adult penguins: 35 birds in all.

A rare ring-tailed lemur gave birth to a pup, and a black stork was born during the spring. In June, a Northern Luzon giant cloud rat arrived on the scene, and the hornbill family also had a new addition. Newborn pink and red flamingoes can be seen in the Big Pond. In late July to early August, a family of rare blue pit vipers had a new addition and baby royal pythons also hatched. A couple of rare white-tailed eagles had offspring too.

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