A seal pup hand-reared by zoo keepers has been reunited with her mother for the New Year.
Gemini, a South American fur seal at Living Coasts in Torquay, was born on the morning of Tuesday 3rd June to mother Grace. She had to be hand-reared because Grace was unable to produce milk. Now, staff have weaned her and introduced her to the adult seals, including her mother.
Living Coasts Operations Manager Clare Rugg said: “Gemini has been weaned off her fishy milkshakes and introduced to the joy of sprats. It took a while, as she had to learn how to swallow solid food! She is now eating 650grams of sprats three times a day.”
Pups and mothers recognise each other and bond by call and smell – because Gemini had to be hand reared from birth, that bond was broken. She then built a bond with the keepers who were caring for her.
Keeper Lee Mach was the key to the successful reintroduction. Clare: “All the seals trust him and are used to his voice and his smell. Grace and Gemini are behaving like unrelated female seals sharing a pool. Grace is the dominant female – but she is very tolerant of Gemini as she instinctively knows she is younger. Gemini is learning very quickly from Grace. Gemini is very playful – and it is likely that a playful youngster will encourage more play in the adults, so they will be even more fun to watch.”
Gemini joins mother Grace, father Karel (pronounced Carl) and female Tunanta, who was born in 2006 and was the first seal pup to be born at Torquay’s coastal zoo.
For more information go to www.livingcoasts.org.uk or ring 0844 474 3366.