Trading Places: Bidding Farewell to Leu and Flaherty

Commander's arrival comes with a bit of bittersweet: To make room for this breeding adult male, some of our younger males were transported to the Seattle Aquarium. Leu and Flaherty traced Commander's path in reverse out to Seattle and are settling into their new exhibit. The marine mammal trainers at the Seattle Aquarium are already very enamored with these smart, charismatic guys and report that they are doing really well.

Leu behind the scenes of the marine mammal center

Flaherty shows off his handsome flippers

Leu and Flaherty were always close companionsalmost since day one—so it made sense that they would go together. Of course, we miss "the boys" dearly. But part of creating a genetically healthy populations of Northern fur seals means sometimes the animals must move around to accommodate breeding pairs. The hope is that Commander and Ursula will have pups someday.

Flaherty was born at the New England Aquarium in 2012. Look at what a chunkster he was as a pup! 
Leu is always up for some fun, including trick or treating for some fish.

If you're ever in Seattle, pop in to visit old friends like Leu and Flaherty at the Seattle Aquarium!

Here are some classic blog posts about the boys—Leu and Flaherty:


Commander Settling In

If you think Commander looks big in pictures, you should see him in real life! Plan a visit to the Aquarium to meet our newest fur seal. Save time and buy your tickets online.

As many of our visitors have already seen, our newest Northern fur seal is taking command of the marine mammal center! Commander arrived from the Seattle Aquarium via FedEx back in February. He underwent a routine quarantine behind the scenes, and he's since been slowly introduced to the animals—and visitors—in the exhibit over the past couple weeks.

Big, handsome fella

Commander is a nearly-400-pound male Northern fur seal named for some fur seal breeding islands in the Bering Sea. He comes to the Aquarium as part of a breeding program. With only nine individuals of this species in North American zoos and aquarium, this mature adult will hopefully hit it off with Ursula (who has already had two pups—Flaherty and Kitovi) and grow the genetic diversity of this population with more pups.

Commander with one of his trainers, Lindsay

Commander's trainers say he is very smart and attentive as they work with him to build new relationships and routines in his new home. He's also learning new skills that will help with his husbandry.

Take a bow! We'd like a closer look at that flipper, please.
Hand signals: Open wide! Time to check those teeth.

Commander is the only mature male in the exhibit. He eats around 36 pounds of food every day—that's around 15,000 calories—and his appetite is huge right now. He'll put on more weight by this summer. He is easy to spot since males are markedly bigger than females, out-weighing them by several hundred pounds. The females—Roxie, Ursula and young Kitovi—mostly stay out of his way, as they would in the wild. Young Chiidax also keeps his distance. While little Chi is male, he has a long time to go until he's considered an adult. The sea lions—Zoe and Sierra—are a little more feisty and they engage the big man now and then. 

Commander and fish
These social interactions—or avoidances— are all part of establishing a new dynamic in the exhibit and are considered perfectly normal. In fact, it's fascinating to see these relationships develop. Come see! Plan a visit and get to know our big, handsome new arrival.


Snow Day with the Seals and Sea Lions

The Aquarium may have been closed to visitors during recent storms, but the marine mammal trainers still reported to work. There were hungry mouths to feed and fun to be had! Check out Chiidax's reaction to all the white stuff.

Patty and Kim stayed nearby so they could report for breakfast and, of course, a little fun with the seals and sea lions.

Patty and Kim 
Who needs to shovel when you can swim? As a local species, harbor seals know how to handle a blizzard.

And since there may be such a thing as too much fun in the snow, the seals and sea lions got to spend some time behind the scenes, too.

Zoe strikes a pose behind the scenes.
Leu flashes his good side for the camera.
And of course, there was shoveling to be done.

Hope everyone weathered the storms OK! 


Sea lions: Fun with peas

Enrichment comes in all shapes and sizes at the Aquarium. Recently we decided to see what the sea lions thought of peas. Yup, tiny, green, frozen, boring little peas. Here's how they reacted.

Not so boring after all! Zoe was really into this tasty activity. Sierra? Not so much. Every animal is different with their own unique personality.

These two.

See what kind of mischief these two have gotten into over the years:


Look at Leu!

Male Northern fur seals grow at an incredible rate, and our male Leu is no exception. He came to us in June of 2012 at approximately nine months of age and he weighed only 29 lbs. His tiny size was due to the fact that he was found stranded as a very young pup along the coast of California. If you have been following our Marine Mammal Trainers Blog, you may remember the videos we showed you of Leu as a baby. He was missing some patches of guard hair but even then he was such a good looking little guy. The video below shows his first introduction to our behind the scenes area. Look at how cute he is!

Video from June 2012

Since that video was taken, Leu has been growing in leaps and bounds. As a growing animal he takes lots of naps and his favorite places to sleep are in the turtle pool and on our tactile toy in our holding room. Here are some pictures taken over the past two years.

August 2013   
February 2014

Just last week at Leu weighed in at 106 lbs but, despite his growing body, he still loves to nap in his favorite toys. Check out the latest pictures we have taken, he barely fits!

November 2014

November 2014

For more updates on Leu and the rest of our marine mammals, keep checking in on our Marine Mammal Trainers Blog.


Learn more about Leu: