News & Politics

National Zoo Announces Birth of Gray Seal Pup

Bao Bao who? Gaze upon this newborn seal.

Photograph courtesy of the National Zoo.

What’s even more rare at the National Zoo than the arrival of a new giant panda cub? How about the birth of a gray seal? The zoo welcomed its first seal pup in 23 years on January 21 when Kara, a 30-year-old seal, gave birth to a female pup in the American Trail exhibit.

The newborn pup, which came out at 35 pounds, is being hand-fed, the zoo says, because Kara cannot produce enough milk.

“In the first days of this pup’s life we did not see her gain as much weight as we would have expected. It is still a tenuous time, but the pup’s weight is now heading in the right direction,” says Ed Bronikowski, a senior curator at the National Zoo. “We celebrate every pound that she gains.”

By Bronikowski’s logic, the zoo’s staff has had nine weight-gain parties, with the pup now coming in at 44 pounds. The zoo says that while Kara has trouble lactating, she is attentive to the newborn pup. The pair swim in holding pool and nap on a beach. The two specimens will join four other gray seals and two harbor seals on view in the American Trail exhibit in the spring.

Photograph courtesy National Zoo.
Photograph courtesy National Zoo.
Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.