The New England Aquarium announced a recent addition to its California sea lion family Thursday, a pup named Ron.
Ron was born at 12:25 a.m. July 2 at the aquarium, and is currently learning to swim and interact with water in prviate at the aquarium’s New Balance Foundation Marine Mammal Center.
“We don’t expect Ron to be able to swim on his own until he is a few weeks old, at the earliest,” said Kathy Streeter of the aquarium’s marine mammal center in a release. “Right now, he is building his muscles to hold his head up, stand upright on all flippers, and walk in a coordinated manner. Every day, he is stronger and more coordinated.”
“He’s a pretty typical baby. He nurses a lot, sleeps a lot, he’s starting to check out his surroundings more,” aquarium supervisor of marine mammals Patty Schilling said. “He’s definitely curious about the water.”
Ron is expected to debut to the public later this year after getting acclimated to aquarium life, and has been spending his days so far in a “behind-the-scenes” pool with his mother, 5-year-old Tipper, according to aquarium spokesman Tony LaCasse.
California sea lions typically start with a strong mother-pup connection, and Tipper has been forming a strong bond with Ron so far.
“She is a fantastic mom,” Schilling said of Tipper. “They’re never more than a few feet apart.”
Tipper has been working with Ron on communicating and moving around, teaching him important vocalizations and twice pulling him from the water after he attempted to swim. The pair will continue to spend time together for Ron’s first month, Schilling said, before mixing with the aquarium’s other female California sea lions, Zoe and Sierra, and eventually the public.
Ron is named after marine mammal biologist Ron Schusterman, who previously worked with Streeter on sea lion research. Schusterman was an animal behavior expert and ocean sciences professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Tipper arrived at the New England Aquarium after being rescued from a California beach in 2013 in an emaciated condition. She was treated at the Fort MacArthur Marine Mammal Care Center in Los Angeles and most recently spent time at Turtle Back Zoo in New Jersey , the home of Ron’s father, 4-year-old Dyson.Ben Thompson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org