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IT’S A BOY!

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Animal Updates | Mammals | Volunteering

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Hugh

Shelby the Harbor Seal gives birth to a male pup.

IT’S A BOY!

Shelby, the most lovable and huggable seal in the Aquarium, has her own huggable seal to lavish love on. On May 1, 2013 she gave birth to a 14.8 kilogram male harbor seal.

I’ve known Shelby since just before the Aquarium of the Pacific opened to the public 15 years ago this June. She was one of the first seals that I worked with as a husbandry volunteer. Being a young seal at the time Shelby and I both learned the ins and outs of animal training together. It’s given us a special relationship. This special bond was one of the reasons that I was asked to train her for possible encounters with guests a few years ago. I used many different volunteers, interns and paid staff during her “Hug-a-Seal” training. That’s why many at the Aquarium consider her to be the most lovable and huggable pinniped in the exhibit. They’ve know her close up and personal during a seal hug session. She’s done several guest encounters since.

This is the second pup for Shelby and Troy. The female pup Bixby was born last year. This year’s pup was much larger than Bixby when born. He’s also much hungrier. While Bixby would end her nursing sessions with mom on her own Shelby has to end the session with the little male seal herself. Otherwise he would suck mama dry. We have to feed Shelby a lot more fish so that she can replenish all the milk that her newest pup has drunk.

The new pup is also a lot more vocal that Bixby. I can’t remember any time that Bixby vocalized before she was weaned. This pup on the other hand quite often utters the characteristic “bwaa” sound that harbor seal babies make when they want mom’s attention. He also seems to like lounging on his back while floating on the water next to Shelby.

This pup definitely has his own unique personality.

IT’S A BOY!
Mother seal and her new born pup.  | Hugh Ryono
IT’S A BOY!
Shelby seems to acknowledge that this pup was much larger at birth than her first.  | Hugh Ryono
IT’S A BOY!
Mammalogist Jimmy checks on mom and pup in the new marine mammal holding pad behind the scenes at the Aquarium of the Pacific.  | Hugh Ryono
IT’S A BOY!
The pup showing off his front flippers and umbilical cord.  | Hugh Ryono

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