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|Sea Lion Adapts to its New Home at the Oregon Coast Aquarium|
Maya, a female California sea lion that arrived at the Aquarium in March, is now about 16 months old and appears to have formed a very close bond with an older sea lion, Lea.
A young sea lion brought to the Aquarium early this year is adjusting well to her new home at the Aquarium. “Maya,” a female California sea lion that arrived at the Aquarium in March, is now about 16 months old and appears to have formed a very close bond with an older sea lion, Lea. The two have been demonstrating behaviors similar to that of mother and offspring.
Maya is a rehabilitated animal deemed unsuitable for release to its natural habitat by the National Marine Fisheries Service because she is blind in one eye. Impaired vision would make it extremely difficult for her to hunt for food. She underwent a period of quarantine to prevent the possibility of spreading communicable diseases to the other mammals. While in quarantine, animals are trained to allow mammalogists to examine them, weigh them and monitor their health. Once her quarantine period ended, she was gradually introduced to the other pinnipeds in the Aquarium’s mammal exhibit.
“We allowed Lea to visit Maya daily hoping the two sea lions would bond,” said Jen DeGroot, Aquarium mammalogist. “When we introduced Maya to the main exhibit, Lea bonded with her immediately. We continued to work on training and feeding her around the other animals. For the most part, nobody picked on her. Once in a while Quill became aggressive, but there were no injuries,” said De Groot. “When Maya and Lea bonded, Lea began to demonstrate motherly behavior, swimming with her constantly,” said DeGroot. “Lea started making a noise we never heard her make before; we think it was a maternal vocalization.”
DeGroot said mammal staff has a list of training behaviors they use to manage the animals. “Maya wowed me,” said De Groot. “She learned targeting very quickly!” The Aquarium has six harbor seals and four sea lions in the pinniped exhibit. Public feedings are held at 11:00 am and 3:00 pm daily.
New arrivals at the Aquarium include Maya, the sea lion, Taz, the harbor seal and two recently hatched tufted puffin chicks. Another animal, to be announced soon, will arrive via Coast Guard C-130 transport sometime in the coming weeks.