Alaska SeaLife Center Press Release –
Seward, Alaska (July 21, 2016) – The Alaska SeaLife Center (ASLC) is pleased to announce the birth of a Steller sea lion pup to parents Eden and Pilot. Born July 1, the female pup weighed in at approximately 41 pounds (18.5 kg) and is the third Steller sea lion pup ever born at the Center, and the third born in a North American facility since the 1980s.
The birth announcement is bittersweet, however. While ASLC celebrates the arrival of Eden’s new pup, the Center is also mourning the loss of a pup recently stillborn to Mara, a 13-year-old female Steller sea lion also in residence. The delivery was June 24. It was Mara’s first pregnancy and Pilot was the father. Stillborn births are not abnormal for first-time mothers, nor for those that begin breeding in middle age. Veterinary staff at the Center say Mara is in healthy physical condition and has returned to her normal schedule.
“We’re excited to announce this new addition to the Alaska SeaLife Center family, and pleased to report that both Eden and her pup are doing well,” said ASLC President and CEO Tara Riemer. “At the same time, we are mourning Mara’s loss, though we are heartened that she is in good health and is socializing with other Steller sea lions.”
The Alaska SeaLife Center is permitted by National Marine Fisheries Service for scientific research with Steller sea lions, some populations of which are listed as endangered. ASLC is studying population dynamics, foraging behavior, reproductive biology, and maternal care in Steller sea lions.
Pregnancies in Steller sea lions are closely monitored by ASLC husbandry, veterinary and research staff. Eden and Mara were given routine checkups and periodic ultrasounds throughout their pregnancies. Both Eden and Mara are in good health and are being socialized with Pilot as candidates for breeding again, should all be so inclined.
The new pup has not yet joined the other Steller sea lions, allowing Eden time to nurture and bond with her in a private, monitored environment. The pup’s name will be announced when she debuts in the public viewing area, which is expected to be in the next two months.
16-year-old Eden is also the mother of Eleanor “Ellie” and Forrest, the other two Steller sea lions born at the Alaska SeaLife Center in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Their father was Woody, the beloved pinniped patriarch that passed away last November. Pilot, a seven year old, is a first- time father. Eden and Pilot joined the Alaska SeaLife Center in 2011, and Mara arrived in 2015.
About ASLC Opened in 1998, the Alaska SeaLife Center is a private, non-profit research institution and public aquarium. It generates and shares scientific knowledge to promote understanding and stewardship of Alaska’s marine ecosystems. ASLC is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. To learn more, visit www.alaskasealife.org.