The pup will remain off exhibit with her mother in the birthing pool until able to eat solid food. Visitors can see the baby on a looping video display at the exhibit. The video will be updated weekly.
BioPark staff observed no mating between Gracie and the father, Oakley, a 21 year-old harbor seal donated to the BioPark in 1992. They were delighted when an ultrasound revealed Gracie’s weight-gain was due to pregnancy.
Gracie, a wild-caught rescue seal, arrived at the BioPark in 2004 after sustaining a gunshot wound to the head which caused significant eyesight loss. BioPark staff were concerned that her impaired eyesight might be a problem in motherhood, but Gracie relies on her other senses to communicate.
“Seals use scent and vocalization, so we’re finding that her eyesight is not an issue at all,” said Lynn Tupa, Zoo Manager. “The pup is so cute. She nurses often and communicates with mom constantly, so there is a lot of vocalization. Usually after nursing, they play in the pool together.”
The Zoo will hold a naming competition on Mother’s Day, May 8. Zoo visitors will be able to vote on their favorite name from options selected by keepers. Fans of the BioPark’s Facebook page
The BioPark is an accessible facility and a division of the City of Albuquerque’s Cultural Services Department. For more information, visit http://www.cabq.gov/biopark or call 311 locally or (505) 768-2000 (Relay NM or 711).
Caption: Seal pup and mother, Gracie, explore the birthing pool. Photo by Katie Mast, courtesy of ABQ BioPark. Additional photos available on the BioPark’s Flickr stream