Moody GardensÂ® Celebrates Birth of First Harbor Seal Pup
Newborn pup completes the circle of rescue, rehabilitation and romance for parents Presley and Porter
GALVESTON ISLAND, Texas, Dec. 14, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Moody Gardens welcomed a new addition to the North Pacific seal exhibit at the Aquarium Pyramid on Dec. 11– a harbor seal pup named Riley. The newborn seal and first-time mother Presley have spent their short time together bonding through activities like nursing and exploring their exhibit.
“Nursing and sleeping are healthy behaviors for a pup. Right now Riley is curious about the environment and is quickly adapting to its surroundings,” said Animal Husbandry Manager Greg Whittaker. “Since there are just more than 100 harbor seals in captivity, this birth and Riley’s health is important to the entire species.”
Biologists do not yet know Riley’s gender, but the estimated 20-pound, brown-eyed pup has surely captivated the hearts of staff and visitors alike.
Riley is not only an exciting birth for Moody Gardens, but also for parents Porter and Presley who first met in 2006. Porter, who was rescued near death off the coast of Maine after being abandoned by his mother, made his home at Moody Gardens in 2001. He had been bottle fed and nursed back to heath by workers at Marine Animal Lifeline, but after an infection destroyed his eye biologists decided Porter would not be able to survive in the wild. Five years later, Presley joined the Moody Gardens family after her caretakers at Memphis Zoo determined the young harbor seal needed a companion. Although Presley and Porter have conceived in the past, this is the couple’s first successful birth.
“Presley has demonstrated excellent mothering skills with Riley,” said Diane Olsen, assistant curator of seals and penguins. “Within an hour of the pup’s birth, she accepted and began protecting the baby, allowed it to nurse and led Riley around the exhibit.”
Presley and Riley are on exhibit with Squirt, the blind sea lion, at the Aquarium Pyramid while the males of the seal family give the pup time to adjust. Squirt is another rescue animal who was adopted by Moody Gardens in 2010 after an experience similar to Porter’s on the West coast near Santa Barbara.
“Our seal exhibit is now a complete picture of our dedication to animal rescue and conservancy,” Whittaker said and added that addressing special needs is a key part of the Moody Gardens mission. “Riley is an adorable new addition to our family and a heartwarming gift for all of us.”
For more information or a bird’s eye view of the seals from a live seal web camera, visit www.moodygardens.org or call 800-582-4673.
Moody Gardens is an AZA-accredited public non-profit educational destination utilizing nature in the advancement of rehabilitation, conservation, recreation and research.
SOURCE Moody Gardens