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Zach at the Zoo: Meet the Harbor Seal

Posted at 7:07 AM, May 30, 2024

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — In this week's edition of Zach at the Zoo, we are better introduced to Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium's two harbor seals — Milo and Monty. The two boys are lovable and really know how to put on a show.

  • VIDEO: See the harbor seals go through their training demonstrations.
  • Though they may seem similar at first glance, the harbor seal is much different than the California sea lions they share an exhibit with.
  • They will perform twice a day, every day, through Labor Day.

BROADCAST TRANSCRIPT:

These boys are sure to make you smile.

“So, we have Monty and Milo,” Supervisor of Apes & Pinnipeds Christine Dupre told us.

“Monty has like smaller spots on him and greyer in color."

"While milo is more brownish in color, and his spots are much larger.”

Not to be confused with sea lions – although they are roommates with the sea lions at the Owen Sea Lion Shores exhibit – these two are harbor seals.

“They don’t live in groups like sea lions do. They don’t have big families, they’re solitary,” Dupre said. “These two are actually very close. It’s almost like having an umbilical cord. Where one goes, the other one goes.”

It doesn’t take long to fall in love with them – like they have with each other. These 180-pounders are full of warmth.

“They’re very thick. That’s a big, thick blubber layer is what it is. Because they live in the colder arctic waters, they need to have that real thick blubber layer to keep warm.”

“They move on the land by what’s called galumphing,” Dupre explained. “Because they don’t have the ability to walk on land like sea lions do. They physically cannot rotate their hips like sea lions can.”

Another difference from sea lions – the size of their flippers.

“You can see how short their front flippers are, and they have the long claws, as compared to the sea lions who have a real long flipper,” Dupre said.

“Because of that, seals do not swim with their front flippers. They will navigate a little bit, but all of their swimming is done with their hind flippers.”

However, they do have a ‘leg up’ on the sea lions when first born.

“When they give birth, they give birth to a young pup that is able to swim and be independent almost right away. They do nurse from their moms but they start eating fish much sooner than sea lions do.”

These intelligent fellas are constantly training with the keepers here. Sure, it provides entertainment, but it’s about much more.

“It develops good relationships with the keepers,” Dupre said. “And it helps us take better care of the animals in general.”

You can catch them in action! They will be doing training demonstrations for the public twice a day, every day, through Labor Day.