Partner Series
Sea Lion Pups Born at Belfast Zoo
Belfast Zoological Gardens is celebrating the birth of two California sea lion pups!
Credit: Belfast Zoo.

Two California sea lion pups are the latest arrivals at the Belfast Zoo in Northern Ireland. 

Solo, the male pup, was born to mother Stella on June 4 and Twirl, the female pup, was born to mother Arielle on June 11.

Their arrival brings the total number of California sea lions in the zoo to seven.

"We are all delighted with the arrival of our sea lion pups and they are always a favourite with visitors!  They are highly intelligent and they are definitely one of the noisiest species we care for here at the zoo," said Mark Challis, zoo manager, in a statement.

Proud dad of both pups is Wesley, who is 20 years old.  He arrived in Belfast in February 2007 from Woburn Safari Park, and has since fathered 11 pups.

All California sea lions in European zoos are managed as part of a breeding program and many of the pups born at Belfast have moved to other zoos around the world.  Most recently, a male pup born there in 2010 moved to Dublin Zoo at the end of June. 

The main threat facing California sea lions is from fishermen, who regard them as competition for fish stocks. They are also hunted for their skin and blubber; water pollution is also increasingly becoming a threat to their habitat.