Seal and Sea Lions: Diet

RIVERBANKS ZOO (WJBF) – Are you looking for a wild way to start your day?  It’s Wild Encounters where we go behind the scenes at Riverbanks Zoo giving you a great look at some of the cool things the animals do, what the zookeepers do and give you some unique looks which you wouldn’t normally see.

So we’re starting off with one of their newest exhibits, maybe you haven’t seen it yet.  It’s the seals and sea lions.

Alyson tells us a little bit about seals and sea lions.

“Well, we actually have five California sea lions, four of those are male, one is female.  And then we have one harbor seal, so he’s our lone wolf but he definitely runs the pool.”

Alright, so tell us, I guess, the different between the seals and the sea lions.

“So, the seal is smaller.  They kind of max out at two to three hundred pounds.  The sea lions can get anywhere up to eight hundred pounds or so.  Our largest right now is Baja.  He’s our full grown.  He’s fourteen years old but he weighs probably about five hundred and sixty pounds.”

So that’s a…that’s a pretty big animal, so a lot goes into feeding them, so how much about do they eat every day then?

“Well, Baja, he currently gets thirty two pounds of food.  Anywhere under that, Gambit only gets about seven, that’s our seal, so it’s a range from there but we actually do have to adjust their food on a regular basis because they can gain weight so quickly and lose weight so quickly that we’re constantly getting weights on them and constantly changing what their diet is.”

Alright, so we have some of this food here right behind us so explain to us what we have here in the buckets for them that they eat every day.

“So this is actually their morning training food, so there’s more food in our fridges back here, so this is an example of what they would get for their morning training sessions.  So we have three types of fish here.  We have capelin, we have squid and we have cut herring.”

And we were talking earlier before we started filming, some of them have squid in here and some don’t and it’s not for something specific other than some of them just don’t like squid.

“Yes, sometimes a mammal just doesn’t really care for a type of fish and that’s ok.  We just work around it.”

Right, so, I mean, it’s just like people.  It’s not like you just throw out the same food and they’re all ok with it.  Some of them have particular taste so we make sure they avoid that.  And also, we have some vitamins back here for them as well.  What are we looking at?

“Yep, so back here, they need supplements just like we do.  They don’t necessarily eat all the fish that they would in the wild so we have a couple different types of vitamins that we give them.  There’s vitamin E.  There’s vitamin B.  And then over here, these blue ones are actually just called Sea Tabs.”

We’re learning about what they’re eating but with seals and sea lions, they’re intelligent animals.  They can do some cool stuff.  They’re fun to watch, so of course, we’re going to see some of that training coming up.

In the next edition of Wild Encounters two weeks from now, we’ll have a look at their training.  We’ll see them in action and give you an idea of what when you come to Riverbanks Zoo, you can see.

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