Wild Encounters: Seal & Sea Lion Training

Wild Encounters

Micah: Welcome back to another edition of Wild Encounters.  We’re taking to the water with some very cool mammals and I’m here with Matt, he’s a mammal keeper.  We have Sea Lion Landing back here.  Describe the animals we have here in this exhibit.

Matt:  Yeah, so we have six animals in here.  We have five sea lions and one harbor seal.  The sea lions are four males, Baja, Maverick, Ranger and PJ.  We have named Annette.  Then our male harbor seal is named Gambit.

Micah:  And this whole crew is behind me and we’re getting a closer look this time, me even going down there onto the deck, seeing their behavior, so remind us these behaviors.  They’re not just tricks, they’re also enrichment and allows you to help take care of the animals.

Matt:  That’s right.  We like to use the word behavior rather than trick because these are things that either stimulate them, give them exercise, get their mind working or they’re things that help us take care of them.  They’re husbandry behaviors, looking over their bodies, assisting us with blood draws, that kind of thing.

Micah:  And like we always talk about, conservation, a big thing here at Riverbanks Zoo, and some of the animals here in this exhibit are rescues.

Matt:  That’s right.  Three of the animals in here were actually rescued from the wild.  We have Maverick, Ranger and Annette.  They were all stranded on different beaches and they were rescued and brought into human care, otherwise they would have died. 

Micah:  So an excellent way to save these animals, continuing conservation with that.  Lots of unique behaviors that we saw and I got to get pretty close and see some of those behaviors.  Folks at home can do that at Riverbanks Zoo as well.

Matt:  That’s right.  We do have the Riverbanks Backstage Tours.  They go through various areas of the zoo, including Sea Lion Landing.  People do come out on deck and experience what you experienced, standing with us while we train the animals. 

Micah:  And so we try to give you at home a look behind the scenes and do that, but you can do that in person, just like I did.  It’s a very cool experience because…we were just talking about this off camera, you don’t realize how big these animals are.

Matt:  Yeah, our full grown adult male Baja, he averages around 500-550 pounds give or take.  Some of these other boys aren’t quite full grown yet, but yeah, they’re large carnivores.

Micah:  So 550 pounds, that’s enormous.  You get that close and don’t realize how big they are, because you look through the glass, you see them swimming around, they seem so graceful swimming.  They can’t be that big right?  But you get up close to them on land, huge animals. 

Matt:  Exactly.

Micah:  Make sure you come down here to Riverbanks Zoo.  Check out Sea Lion Landing.  Do the behind the scenes tour.  See them up close for yourself.  Have your own Wild Encounter.  We’ll see you next time.

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