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Taronga Zoo celebrates the birth of an endangered Australian sea-lion pup

Donna Coutts, September 22, 2020 6:45PM Kids News

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Taronga Zoo welcomes the arrival of a female Australian sea-lion pup getting used to the surroundings before being introduced to the public. Picture: Toby Zerna media_cameraTaronga Zoo welcomes the arrival of a female Australian sea-lion pup getting used to the surroundings before being introduced to the public. Picture: Toby Zerna


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Zookeepers need your help to name a cute and playful endangered Australian sea-lion pup who made her first public splash at Taronga Zoo Sydney this week.

The female Australian sea-lion pup was born during the early morning of July 30 to experienced mother Nala and father Charlie. This is Nala and Charlie’s second pup together, following the birth of Torre, a male, in late 2018.

“Weighing in at only 7kg at birth, the little pup has increased not only in weight but has shown a massive increase in confidence over the past week. She is now constantly swimming and playing in the water, which is the type of progress we would like to see at this age,” said Marine Mammals Unit Supervisor Brad McKenzie.

“We are thrilled that she is going to be out on display these spring school holidays. At the moment she is learning to vocalise* and although I may be biased*, but it is probably one of most adorable sounds ever!” he said.

Seal Pup media_cameraThe Australian sea-lion pup soaking up some sun. Picture: Toby Zerna

Though all births at zoos are important and special, the birth of this sea-lion pup is wonderful news for this endangered native marine species, the numbers of which continue to decline in the wild. Fewer than 25 pups are born in the wild each year.

Threats to the species include increasingly isolated populations, overfishing and entanglement* in fishing debris* such as nets and lines.

Sea-lion pup makes a splash

The zoo is running a competition to name Nala and Charlie’s pup.

The public will get to choose from two names:

Amalie, which is a tribute to the pup’s late* grandfather and Nala’s father Mallie; or

Kailani, which is of Hawaiian origin and translates to sea and sky.

The entry with the most meaningful reason behind their name selection will win a family pass to Taronga and a seal encounter and meet and greet with one of Taronga’s Marine Mammal Keepers. The competition closes on September 29 at 5pm.

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Australian sea-lions are a type of seal that was once hunted for fur.

They only live in Australian waters — along the Western Australian and South Australian coast — where there are estimated to be only 9900 to 12,500.

The species is classed as endangered on the IUCN’s Red List and regarded as vulnerable under Australian law.

Females only breed where they were born.

There are only 66 known breeding colonies, each of which is genetically distinct from neighbouring colonies and other populations.

Every sea-lion is very important for the survival of the species. The death of even a single female can have a negative impact on a colony’s survival, especially if the colony has a very low population.

Source: Australian Marine Conservation Society

Seal Pup media_cameraThe pup is now constantly swimming and playing in the water, which tells her keepers that she is developing as expected. Picture: Toby Zerna


  • vocalised: used its voice
  • biased: unable to be objective
  • entanglement: getting tangled up
  • debris: rubbish
  • late: no longer alive


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  1. When was the pup born?
  2. How heavy was it?
  3. What is its brother’s name?
  4. Where does this species live?
  5. Where do female Australian sea-lions breed?


1. Sea-Lion Names
As you read in the article, Taronga Zoo is having a competition where the public can vote for one of two names they’ve come up with. Come up with your own two names for this sea-lion pup and write the meaning behind each one. Some things to consider when thinking of names could be:

  • The month they were born
  • Whether boy or girl
  • Order of birth in family
  • Mum and Dad’s name
  • Grandparents name
  • Their geographical location
  • Their size
  • Their personality

Share your sea-lion names with the class and vote on your favourite.

Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Personal and social, Critical and creative thinking

2. Extension
After watching the video of this sea-lion playing, give some reasons of where you think they got the name ‘sea-lion’.

How could you help this species from becoming further endangered?

Time: allow 10 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Science, Critical and creative thinking

Punctuation Thief
Pick a paragraph from the article, or about 3 sentences together if that’s easier, and rewrite it without the punctuation. At the bottom of the page write a list of all the punctuation you stole and in the order you stole it. For example; C , . C .

Then swap your book with another person and see if they can work out where the punctuation needs to go back to.

Make it easier: Underline where you stole the punctuation from but don’t put the list at the bottom in order.

Make it harder:

Don’t put the punctuation in order at the bottom.

Underline where you took the punctuation from, but don’t tell them what pieces you took.

Just tell them how many pieces you took, but not what they are.

Don’t give them any clues!

HAVE YOUR SAY: What would you name the sea lion pup?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

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