08/08/2018

Sleepy seals

Visitors to Bristol Zoo Gardens have been asking why our fur seals are looking so sleepy.

It is not down to the heat, even though temperatures touched 25C in the Zoo’s Seal and Penguin Coasts exhibit yesterday.

The four South American fur seals Pablo, Toro, Juan and Miguel are lazing around because it is their mating season.

They are all boys, and between May and September their behaviour changes.

They stop swimming around their pool as much as usual and clambering across their favourite rocks. Instead, they relax and generally take it easy.

Mammal keeper Lisa Schurman said: “For these five months they hang around in their pool pushing their bottoms and flippers in the air.

“We see them in lots of different positions awake and asleep, especially when the sun is shining. It’s all completely natural, but lots of people have been asking about them.”

Lisa said when the breeding season ends in October the seals will return to their usual active selves.

South American fur seals, like those at Bristol Zoo, are found on the coasts of Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and the Falkland Islands.

Until recently they were hunted for their warm fur, the fish stocks they rely on for food have also been depleted by industrial fishing. But their numbers are rising again now.

Bristol Zoo Gardens is a conservation and education charity. It relies on the generous support of the public not only to fund its important work in the zoo but also its vital conservation and research projects spanning five continents.

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