The Louisville Zoo has a new baby to help them ring in the new year.
On Wednesday, the zoo's 6-year-old gray seal, Rona, gave birth to her first seal pup at 7:25 in the morning.
"The birth went very smoothly, with no complications," associate veterinarian Dr. Julie Ter Beest said in a statement. "We’re delighted to see that Rona’s maternal instincts appear to be strong. The pup is vocalizing normally, has nursed, and appears healthy."
According to the zoo, Rona is very attentive to her pup. Keepers are closely monitoring the pair, while also giving the mom-and-kid duo the room they need to bond without distractions.
"The zoo has a successful history of gray seal births in the late 70s and 80s. We are excited to be able to continue that tradition with Rona’s first pup," Louisville Zoo Director John Walczak said in a statement. "Births are always uplifting for the staff, and we look forward to celebrating this pup’s birth with our community."
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A total of eight seal pups have been born at the Louisville Zoo over the course of its history. In 1979, twin seal pups were born, the first twins to be documented in a zoo system.
Rona and her pup will be off-exhibit for "several weeks" so they can fully enjoy their initial bonding period. The staff is waiting to perform a neonatal exam until the pup is weaned, so the sex of the baby is still unknown.
According to zoo officials, weaning occurs after the first four weeks of nursing, during which seal pups gain around 100 pounds from the mother's high-fat milk. They are born weighing around 30 to 35 pounds.
The Louisville Zoo plans to hold a naming contest, sponsored by T-Mobile, for the new pup at a later date.
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