TOLEDO, Ohio — The Toledo Zoo and Aquarium has four new residents to entertain visitors at the Arctic Encounter exhibit this summer.
In April, four female California sea lions joined the harbor seals in their enclosure.
The sea lions came from a zoo in Scottsdale, Arizona. The older two, Penny and Skye, are both 11 years old. They each have one pup. Skye's 4-year-old pup is Storm and Penny's 4-year-old pup is Phoenix.
Zoo visitors can see the sea lions, who will usually be out on the exhibit in pairs, swimming and playing alongside the zoo's harbor seals: 28-year-old Fritz, 37-year-old Spike and 39-year-old Patty.
Toledo Zoo employees went to Arizona to meet the sea lions, get to know them and accompany them on the flight to Toledo. A pair of Scottsdale keepers also accompanied the sea lions back to Toledo so that they would have familiar faces for a few days in their new home.
As they get acclimated to their new habitat, the sea lions are swimming and playing with toys, including rubber balls, which they enjoy tossing around.
The sea lions generally swim about 6-8 mph when they are just cruising around, but can reach top speeds of 15-25 miles an hour in bursts while in the wild.
Beth Posta, curator of behavioral husbandry at the zoo, said sea lions are athletic and playful by nature. One of the animals already has climbed atop the large rock in their exhibit to make a dramatic dive into the water, she said.
Keepers at the zoo will begin training the animals so they can participate in their own care, go on and off exhibit safely and present their back flippers for blood draws, for instance.
"They're very good problem solvers," Posta said.
In the wild, male sea lions live about seven years and females live about 11 years, but in the zoo they can live 25-30 years, she said.
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