Sea lion pup earns her name at local zoo; another animal expecting

Jul 12, 2024, 2:55 PM | Updated: 2:57 pm

Photo: A sea lion pup at the Point Defiance Zoo bonds with its mother....

A sea lion pup at the Point Defiance Zoo bonds with its mother. (Photo courtesy the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium)

(Photo courtesy the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium)

Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo and Tacoma’s Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium both have news. Two animals are experiencing motherhood for the first time. Eloise the sea lion recently gave birth to her new baby while Batu the orangutan is expecting.

Point Defiance sees first sea lion pup in zoo’s 119-year history

Point Defiance posted a video of the little sea lion waddling on her flippers and barking in response to her mom.

She is the first California sea lion pup born in Point Defiance’s 119-year history. In a news release, the zoo said baby sea lions don’t swim right away so visitors won’t be able to see her until later this summer.

She’s also taking antibiotics to treat a mild respiratory infection but is otherwise healthy and bonding with her mom. Both her mother, Eloise and father, Boomer, are rescued sea-lions who live at the zoo’s popular Rocky Shores exhibit.

“Eloise is a natural at parenting, and we’ve seen the pair bonding a lot already,” Point Defiance Zoo Curator Jen DeGroot stated. “Eloise is protective of the pup and encourages her to nurse. Soon she will begin to give her some ‘swimming lessons’ in shallow water.”

Photo: Point Defiance Zoo said mother Eloise is very protective of her new pup.

Point Defiance Zoo said mother Eloise is protective of her new pup. (Photo courtesy of the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium)

Public picks name for new pup

On Friday, Point Defiance announced a name for the pup, drumroll … Pepper!

The zoo gave the public name options including Rosa, for the Santa Rosa sea lions in the Channel Islands off California; Marnie, meaning “of the sea;” Noria, a type of seaweed; and Pepper because keepers said the pup was “strong and feisty at her first two health checks despite fighting off a respiratory infection.”

In a news release the zoo said that out of 10,500 votes, Pepper was the clear winner. The runner-ups were Rosa at 26%, Nori at 23% and Marnie at 20%.

Pepper is now one month old and is still tackling swimming.

“Pepper is very observant of Eloise, watching her go in and out of the water and staying nearby during the lessons,” DeGroot said in the release.

For now, the zoo said Pepper will stay behind the scenes and bond with her mom.

To learn more about Pepper and Eloise, visit Point Defiance’s website.

Woodland Park has pregnant orangutan for first time in 35 years

Batu the orangutan hasn’t given birth yet but is expected to have her offspring this summer in late August/early September.

Photo: Woodland Park Zoo's Batu is expecting.

Woodland Park Zoo’s Batu is expecting. (Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, Woodland Park Zoo)

Woodland Park said this is the first time in 35 years it has a pregnant orangutan. Batu is 14 years old and father, Godek, is 15 years old. In a news release, the zoo stated the two have a great relationship.

Photo: Batu and Godek are having their first baby at the Woodland Park Zoo.

Batu and Godek are having their first baby at the Woodland Park Zoo. (Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, Woodland Park Zoo)

The baby will also be Godek’s first.

The zoo said its animal care team has designed a first-time mother training course for Batu.

“Our goal is to arm Batu with as many skills possible to instill confidence and help her be a successful mother,” Rachel Vass, an Interim Animal Care Manager at Woodland Park Zoo, stated in the news release. “One scenario we need to prepare for is the newborn requiring bottle feeding. Our orangutan keepers are training Batu to retrieve objects, cuddle a burlap baby doll close to her chest, situate it higher or lower on her torso and allow a milk-filled bottle to be placed on her breast through the mesh. Orangutans are very intelligent animals and we’re pleased how Batu is progressing with her maternal training.”

Orangutans critically endangered

According to the zoo, there are three species of orangutans found only in Southeast Asia. Orangutans are a critically endangered species that face habitat loss and fragmentation due to forest fires, logging, palm oil plantations and other factors.

To learn more about orangutans and options to help save them, visit Woodland Park Zoo’s website.

This story was originally published on June 20, 2024, at 5:58 p.m. It has been updated and republished since then.

Julia Dallas is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read her stories here. Follow Julia on X here and email her here.

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Sea lion pup earns her name at local zoo; another animal expecting