Trunkline Magazine (Louisville Zoo) December 2018 - Page 16

Pinnipeds Aplenty! By Heather Dishon, Communications Coordinator Sparkling pools of water, icy glaciers in the background, and the sounds of seals and sea lions bark- ing as they zoom and explore… Glacier Run is a beloved desti- nation for many Zoo guests. You can visit Qannik the polar bear, grizzly bears Inga, Otis and Rita, and even “ooh” and “ahh” over the sleek pinnipeds as they zoom past the large underwater view- ing window of our 110,000-gal- lon salt water pool. Glacier Run is certainly bustling these days — but did you know it’s currently home to 11 pinnipeds? Yes, 11 — that includes 7 seals and 4 sea lions. That may seem like a lot, but our state-of-the-art seal and sea lion habitat can easily handle a total of 14 pinnipeds! A common question from Zoo guests is, “How can you tell the difference between the seals and sea lions?” Sea lions, seals, and walruses are all part of a group of animals called pinnipeds, which means "wing foot" or "fin-footed." You could probably point out a wal- rus if you saw one, but if you want to tell seals and sea lions apart, you need to look at their ears! If you see a small ear flap on each side of their head, you are looking at a sea lion. Seals only have tiny openings for Above: New harbor seals Oskar and Kash from Miller Park Zoo explore Glacier Run. Right: Riva "the rocket" their ears. Sea lions are also able to turn their hind flippers forward to help them move across beaches and rocky shorelines. Seals cannot do this and must wiggle, roll and slide to get out of the water. You’ve likely seen them doing this as they move in and out of the pools and across the decks in Glacier Run. So, who’s in Glacier Run now? Meet the seals and sea lions that call Glacier Run home! California Sea Lions Triton — male, age 28 Triton was relocated from the Bir- mingham Zoo in Alabama in 2010. He is very easy-going and likes to participate in training activities with his keepers. Bart — male, age 25 Bart was born at the Louisville Zoo in 1993. He has a big personality, is impressive in stature, can be a little pushy and a bit of a mischievous! Gremlin — female, age 14 Gremlin came to the Louisville Zoo in 2013 from the Miller Park Zoo in Il- linois. She’s friendly with sea lion Riva. 16 • Louisville Zoo Trunkline • Winter 2018 Riva — female, age 4 Riva was born in 2014 and relocat- ed to the Louisville Zoo from the California Wildlife Center in 2015. She’s very energetic and is referred to by staff as “Riva the rocket”. Riva is an important animal ambassador for sea lions. She was stranded as a young sea lion during an Un- usual Mortality Event (UME) off the coast of California. UME means “a stranding that is unexpected and involves a significant die-off of any marine mammal population, demanding immediate response.” Riva was found both malnourished and dehydrated. She was just one of many pinnipeds rescued that year. Riva’s story helps people to understand the challenges marine mammals face daily like habitat de- struction, pollution and overfishing.