Jolly Roger: for the first time in the last 20 years a fur seal was born in the Moscow Zoo


A northern fur seal cub was born in our zoo on July 21. Now it is almost two months old, it gradually explores the water but most of the time it tries to stay close to its mother. Now she feeds the baby with milk, but from the age of 4 months, it will change it to an adult diet consisting mainly of fresh fish. Zoologists managed to examine the cub in the first week of its life, and repeated examinations showed that it is a healthy male.

The parents of the cub are male Pirate and a female Yushka. Continuing the "pirate" theme, the newborn was named Roger. The fur seal has already managed to justify its unusual name: it is very active, inquisitive, courageous and truly "cheerful". Yushka treats her cub with great care and does not admit anyone from congeners to it, fearing that they may inadvertently injure or frighten the baby. However, she fully trusts the keepers. Besides that, she helps them to accustom Roger to adult food. Also she takes the cub out to the outdoor enclosure and, if necessary, takes it away in the interior one. By the way, Yushka and Roger will be resettled there for the winter period. The rest of the group will be free to go for a walk even in the cold, and will return to the inner enclosure for the night in order to warm up.

The Northern fur seal is included in the International Red book as a vulnerable species. Until the early 20th century, these amazing pinnipeds were hunted uncontrollably, but in 1911 the United States, Canada, Japan and Russia signed a Convention on prevention of further destruction of seals. Today, the Commander Islands and the Seal Island, which are the natural habitat of seals, have been declared by Russian legislation as a reserved area.

Due to the fact that fur seals have long been considered exclusively as valuable fur commercial animals, their natural population has dramatically decreased. Now the situation has stabilized a little, however in many zoos and aquariums specialists are still working on creating of a reserve population of this species.

Moscow zoo has a small group of 6 specimens, led by a 12-year-old male named Pirate. The other members of the group are two adult females Yushka and Sparta, who are 10 years old, a young female Dori, who came in 2016 from Izhevsk, and Roger as well.

The birth of a fur seal cub is a joyful occasion for Moscow zoo. This also indicates that the created conditions are comfortable for them. When the updated pavilion "Pinnipeds" appears in the zoo, a group of fur seals will move there from the enclosure at the new territory. It is planned to create the conditions as close as possible to the natural in the modern pavilion for animals: the pool will be more spacious, and the water temperature will be maintained at an optimal level.

Seals are one of the most active inhabitants of the zoo. Every day there are special trainings conducted with them, in which the animals get a lot of physical and intellectual activity. This is important for the welfare and well-being of animals. The seals are very contact and friendly, they treat their keepers with full confidence and great tenderness. They also show curiosity towards visitors. When many people are near their pool, they arrange demonstrational swims, dive a lot, jumping out of the water onto land suddenly, and "talking" to each other: the vocalization of seals is quite rich and varied - adult males can produce a threatening roar, angrily clatter, and females can shout in a low voice and even bleat.

Because of their intelligence and high learning ability, fur seals often end up in circus, where they are trained and people arrange the shows with their participation. However, this is contrary to the principles of modern zoos - members of the European Association of zoos and aquariums. Therefore, all the demonstration activities, which are conducted with seals, have an exclusively educational orientation: during the feeding and training sessions, zoo guests can take a close look at the animals, get acquainted with the features of their biology and behavior.