A Florida 1-month-old sea lion that was born at Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park on June 17 was seen splashing in a kiddie pool.
FORT WALTON BEACH — On a hot, sunny Tuesday, a 1-month-old sea lion pup splashes around in her kiddie pool at the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park. Her mother, Tabby — a 6-year-old California sea lion — swims in the bigger pool nearby, always keeping a close eye on her little one.
The little, energetic pup was welcomed into the world June 17, marking the first sea lion birth at the Gulfarium in at least 10 years.
But the public will have to wait before they get to meet the new pup, whose name has yet been decided.
Colleen Cassidy, Tabby's trainer, said she was overjoyed about her "favorite" sea lion giving birth.
"I'm a grandma," Cassidy said jokingly.
Cassidy said they found out about Tabby's pregnancy in January after they noticed odd behavior. The staff tested her blood and confirmed the pregnancy with an ultrasound.
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"Because of the way their body is, it's sometimes hard to tell if they are (pregnant) so that's part of why it's so important that we're with them all the time because we end up noticing little signs," said Bryan Martin, the Gulfarium’s director of animal management.
During the pregnancy, Tabby had eyes on her every day, 24 hours a day.
"It's amazing to have the staff and the dedication that we do," Martin said. "I'm just so proud of them and all the work that they do."
For now, Tabby and the pup are spending close time together in an exhibit that is separated by a wooden block, which is used to keep the pup from going into the pool while still allowing Tabby access to her.
Martin said they are giving Tabby as much time as she needs with her pup before putting the little one with the bigger sea lions.
"Tabby will begin to show us that she isn't paying as much attention," he said.
It's up to Tabby, but Martin estimated that the pup could be available to the public by the fall.
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The pup is still learning how to swim, so for now she splashes around in the kiddie pool. But when Tabby is ready, she and her pup will be with the other sea lions in the larger pools. Martin said sea lions don't typically stay in family groups because they are gregarious, meaning they live in colonies as opposed to living separated.
Eventually, the pup will be trained and potentially become a cast member in the sea lion show. But for now the Gulfarium is simply working on a name.
Martin said the upper-management at the Gulfarium is deciding on a name that fits. But once she is named, the Gulfarium will announce it on its Facebook page.
This story originally published to nwfdailynews.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the GateHouse Media network.