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Zoo Welcomes Adorable, Rare-in-Captivity Gray Seal Pup (PHOTOS)

January 11,2016 at 01:44 am

The new year meant a new pup for the Brookfield Zoo in Brookfield, Illinois.

The zoo welcomed its first addition for 2016 on Jan. 2. A gray seal pup was born to 11-year-old Lily and 12-year-old Boone, their second pup after Charles, born on Jan. 1, 2014.

Thirty pounds at birth, the female pup is excepted to quadruple its weight over the next month, the zoo said in a press release. After just three weeks of nursing, the pup will move to a fish diet.

The species is doing well in the wild with at least 150,000 individuals known across their native habitat of the North Atlantic and Baltic Sea, according to the Seal Conservation Society. Exacting measures of wild seal pup populations is difficult, however, because gray seals alternate between land and ice breeding, throwing off pup production counts, the International Union for Conservation of Nature said on its website.

Even with this thriving population, just 24 are found in captivity across eight North American institutions, the zoo`s press release noted. The two-year-old pup Charles will soon move to another facility to help establish the zoo and aquarium population there.

Currently, the newborn boasts a long, white coat called lanugo, which will molt two to four weeks after birth. The shorter, coarser hair of an adult seal will replace it, the zoo said. She will not reach the public pinniped exhibit before she molts her lanugo, the zoo said, but updated photos and videos of the pup can be found on the Brookfield Zoo`s Facebook page.