Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Rut Season

Kilo struts his stuff for the girls.
Throughout the summer, it’s obvious that our male sea lion, Kilo, does not share the habitat at the same time as the females, Karen and Lina. This is because May through August is sea lion rut season also known as mating season. During these months, Kilo becomes very loud and even gains a great deal of weight as he shows off for his two ladies.

Although Kilo, Karen, and Lina live in human care they still are on a typical sea lion biological clock. Kilo instinctually creates a territorial area where he displays ritualized behavior, such as vocalizations, head-shaking, stares and bluff lunges in an attempt to lure the females. When you visit during rut season Kilo makes it very clear through his loud barks and enthusiastic nature that he’s of mating age.

Karen and Lina’s situation is a bit unique because of their ages. Karen, who is 26, is considered a senior citizen and is also blind. Due to both of these factors, she is not a suitable candidate for Kilo. Lina on the other hand, is too young and petite for Kilo. Estimated to be about three years old, it is possible that Lina and Kilo could one day have a pup but not for a few more years.

Female California sea lions have a 12-month reproduction cycle. However, they have the unique ability to delay implantation for up to three months. Typically, they give birth in the month of May or June. Like dolphins, male sea lions do not partake in raising the baby.

We hope to one day have a baby sea lion at DRC, but the health and safety of Kilo, Karen, and Lina is the number one priority. As Lina ages or in the event that we receive a new member to our sea lion family we will then decide whether the time is right for a little bundle of adorable joy.