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Welcome Nessie

11 July 2024

We’re delighted to announce that Luce, one of our beloved California sea lions, has just given birth to her second pup. The adorable new arrival was born after an 11-month pregnancy and has been named Nessie after the legendary Loch Ness Monster.  Nessie is the third pup born in the park this past year, joining her big brother Barney, who was born almost exactly a year ago on June 21, 2023.

Tiny Nessie was born on the 25th of June 2024 and, although it’s still early days, mum and baby are both doing well.  Luce will nurse Nessie for up to a year and may choose to stay inside a bit more during this time.

Just like us humans, Luce underwent ultrasound examinations to confirm her pregnancy.  Confirming pregnancy in sea lions is tricky, but our dedicated team developed an innovative ultrasound training process spanning several months to help us do so. Initially, the team worked with a dummy machine to get our sea lions used to the sensation of having the wand moved over them, without dealing with the vibrations and high-frequency sounds (which they hear far more clearly than we do). Then, the team acclimatised the group to these sounds by having the real machine near them during training, without actually touching them with it. Eventually, these two phases came together, allowing our team to complete a true ultrasound. Remarkably, it was during one of these training sessions that we discovered little Nessie!

Lead veterinarian Romain Pizzi explained more, ‘Having our sea lions voluntarily participate in the ultrasound process gives us a significant advantage.  It lets us know for sure whether our sea lions are pregnant and eliminates guesswork. Once the pregnancy is confirmed, our team can then prepare accordingly by adjusting the mother’s diet and getting things ready for the pup’s arrival.  Building up to this point took a lot of effort, but the payoff has been absolutely worth it.’

Sea Lions Team Leader Jen Carpenter said:

We’re delighted to welcome Nessie to our family. Nessie is growing more confident every day and just like the mythical creature she’s named for, seems to have a very adventurous spirit! Last year’s pups are extremely curious about her, and it will be lovely to see them all playing together in future.  California sea lions are such a charismatic species and really help us to educate our visitors about the importance of marine biodiversity.

There will be some changes to our regular schedule of talks and displays in the coming weeks, but visitors will still be able to view our sea lions in their outdoor habitat.

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