Every day at the Bronx Zoo, zookeepers feed their sea lions twice a day once at 11:30 in the morning and at 3:00 in the afternoon and work on a combination of natural behaviors and husbandry behaviors.
Natural behaviors include anything a sea lion may do in the wild such as vocalizing or diving. Husbandry behaviors include activities that allow keepers to manage, position and examine the sea lion; opening their mouth or raising flippers are all behaviors that allow the keepers to make sure they are in good health. Blubber is another important part of sea lion survival.
Male sea lions are 4-5 times larger than females and have a domed head. Female sea lions have a smooth head. Sea lions can be found in British Columbia to the Gulf of California coastline.
Sea lions belong to a group of animals called pinnipeds. The word pinniped means wing-footed and refers to their flippers. This group includes walruses, true seals and eared seals. Sea lions are in the eared seal family. Most people know what a walrus looks like and you can see a walrus at the New York Aquarium in Brooklyn.
Look at the sea lions' head. They have small external ears called pinnae. You won't see these on seals.
In the wild, sea lions feed on fish, squid and octopus. At the zoo, the keepers feed them capelin and herring which the sea lion usually swallows whole and head first. Sea lions have long front flippers which they use to pull themselves through the water just as we use our arms to swim.
Sea lions eat more fish in the winter to build up their blubber layer. In the summer, their appetites reduce and they use up the extra blubber layer.
To learn more about sea lions please visit wcs.org or bronxzoo.com