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The cutest new arrival this summer

PUBLISHED: 13:51 21 June 2018 | UPDATED: 14:56 21 June 2018

Filippa and her new pu are both doing well at Banham Zoo. Picture: contributed

Filippa and her new pu are both doing well at Banham Zoo. Picture: contributed

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There’s a surprising new arrival in the new Sea Lion Bay at Banham Zoo.

Filippa and her new pup in the new Sea Lion Bay enclosure at Banham Zoo. Picture: contributedFilippa and her new pup in the new Sea Lion Bay enclosure at Banham Zoo. Picture: contributed

There’s a surprising new arrival in the new Sea Lion Bay at Banham Zoo.

The pitter patter of tiny flippers has come to south Norfolk after Californian sea lion Filippa gave birth to a pup last week, just a few months after arriving at the new enclosure.

Keepers hadn’t known for long that she was expecting.

Mum and pup are being closely monitored by the animal staff and both are doing well.

Filippa arrived with her daughter Gala, together with Elmo, the father of the newborn pup, from Blackpool Zoo to form part of the group of five – and now six - Californian sea lions at Sea Lion Bay.

The new bay, which includes a large saltwater pool, opened in March this year to launch the 50th birthday celebrations of the south Norfolk zoo.

Mike Woolham, animal manager at Banham Zoo, said: “We certainly didn’t expect to have our first sea lion pup born so soon but Filippa obviously conceived last year whilst still at Blackpool.

“We had no idea until a recent scan determined the pregnancy and since then we have all been waiting for this day and are delighted to welcome the first sea lion to be born at Banham Zoo during this, our 50th year celebration.”

Sea lion males will mate with many females, and after a pregnancy of around 11 months, females give birth to one pup. Pups may suckle for up to two years and mature at between four and five years of age.

Fully-grown males are around three times the size of females. Sea lions are a type of pinniped, along with fur seals and true seals. Unlike seals, sea lions use their flippers to walk on land and have visible ear-flaps.

WHERE DO SEA LIONS LIVE?

Californian sea lions are found on the west coast of North America from Oregon, south to Mexico. Their rookeries (or breeding grounds) are found on offshore islands.

THE BANHAM ZOO PARENTS

MUM – Filippa was born in June 1999 in Osnabruck Zoo, Germany and arrived at Banham from Blackpool Zoo in March 2018. She’s considered the most steady of the five - now six - sea lions at Banham.

Being the oldest she takes everything in her stride and doesn’t seem fazed by anything. She is inquisitive and very happy to be with the keepers.

DAD – Elmo was born in July 2009 in Blackpool Zoo and arrived at Banham from there in March 2018. He’s known as Sea Lion Bay’s gentle giant who still has lots of growing to do. He eats around 12kg per day but he has plenty of manners and doesn’t steal off the others.

THE SEA LION

The sea lions at Banham Zoo are invited to take part in regular sea lion shows in their enclosure, showing how they move on land and in the water.

The show commentary explains the zoo’s conservation ethos and encourages visitors to consider how the way they live, and their use of plastic in particular, can impact on the world.

Although Californian sea lions are listed in the “least concern” by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) the species still faces many challenges in its natural habitat.

These threats include entanglement in discarded fishing gear, ingesting toxins from prey, dumping of toxic and hazardous waste and changes in global atmospheric pressure that affects the availability of their prey.

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