Photo: Christina Castiglione, Smithsonian’s National Zoo
“Our keepers on American Trail have been working around the clock to care for the newest addition to the gray seal exhibit – a pup born Jan. 21. Within 48-hours of the birth our team of keepers, veterinarians and nutritionists who had been closely monitoring mom, Kara, and pup prepared to hand-feed the pup if it became necessary. When it became clear that Kara was not able to produce enough milk to support the pup without supplemental feedings they intervened. The keepers are now tube-feeding the pup six times every day. And yesterday they were able to hand-feed the pup a small capelin fish for the first time!
After this morning’s feeding and weigh-in the team is cautiously optimistic that the pup is headed in the right direction. She now weighs 43 pounds, up from her birth weight of about 35 pounds! The last pup born at the Zoo was Kara’s sister, gray seal Kjya in 1990. Both females are offspring of elderly female gray seal Selkie. Kara was born at the Zoo in 1983, and is the oldest gray seal in to give birth in human care. Male gray seal Gunther sired the pup. If all goes well, we expect the pup to make her debut on exhibit with the adult gray and harbor seals in the spring!”