I bet you have been wondering what our California sea lion pup P.J. has been doing now that he is six months old. Well let me tell you. I have had the honor of watching Marina, P.J’s mother, teach P.J new skills every day.
When P.J was first born, Marina taught him to enter the pool, then to swim, then to exit the pool, each a survival skill, each taking days for him to learn. She also taught him to stay in a little tunnel we have in the outside exhibit. We were nervous at first but Marina was very confident that she wanted him in there. Wild sea lions leave their pups for days in little tight caves for safety. Marina was again teaching P.J a survival skill wild sea lions know and teach their young. Amazing! Each task took great patience on Marina’s part. She gently went over how she wanted these tasks accomplished until P.J succeeded. I was in awe and thrilled watching Marina’s teaching abilities. Marina just turned four years old in June. Marina was a young and first time mother, just a pup herself!
Marina and her friend Lily are wild sea lions. They came to us from California’s Marine Mammal Center in Fort MacArthur almost three years ago. Both injured by bullets, Lily was shot in the right flipper and hobbles on land while Marina had a bullet removed from her left eye and her eye could not be saved. The Marine Mammal Center is run on donations; I have donated to the center and so has our American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK) chapter because of the great work the center does. Donate today and help save a life. They will really appreciate it!
I have just read documentation that researchers have recently discovered wild sea lions have and will adopt unrelated orphaned pups. Incredible! Lily has show great interest in P.J. She plays with him, sleeps with him and has protected him from us when she has thought we were too close to him! I have learned so much from Lily and Marina and now P.J. and I am truly thankful. About six weeks ago, Marina started calling P.J to her training sessions. I would call her to me then she would bark for P.J. She would not eat until he was with us. How cute is she! She has an education plan for her pup. Truly AMAZING!
P.J will not eat fish for a few more months. Now he stations with her and I reward him with praise and he takes a fish to play with. They both target my hand together. When I pet Marina, I pet P.J. He is not afraid because his mom said it was O.K. WOW! The other day I was asking Marina to fetch a new toy. She was unsure of the novel item and was just touching it. I could not believe it when P.J pushed it over to me! Every day I am amazed and so very grateful! Come to the Rocky Coast Gallery glass and play with the sea lions and be amazed with me.
- Mary Ellen Ostrander, zoo keeper