'Thriving' sea lion pups born at Longleat make history for safari park

  • Watch the pups basking in the sunshine.

A pair of sea lion pups have been born at Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire for the first time since 2017.

The newborns are said to be "thriving" and have provided an unexpected treat for visitors on Longleat’s Boat Safari.

Their mums Roo, six, and Bella, nine, were also born at Longleat and form part of a "hugely successful" sea lion breeding programme, the park said.

Credit: Longleat Safari Park

“It’s definitely a proud keeper moment when you witness pups being born to mums who we looked after as pups themselves,” said keeper Amy Parratt.

“Both mums are extremely attentive and doing an amazing job especially for first time parents. Dad Memphis is a little less involved in day to day care but he’s hanging around and making sure they’re ok.

“These pups represent the first of a new generation of sea lions here at Longleat and we’re keeping our fingers crossed that more may be on the way,” she added.

Credit: Longleat Safari Park

Sea lions were first introduced into Half Mile Lake in the late 1960s and are believed to be one of just a few Californian sea lions colonies anywhere in the world to live in freshwater.

Each sea lion eats around three-and-a-half kilos of mackerel a day and keepers supplement their fish diet with salt tablets to mimic a seawater habitat.

The sea lions also spend much of their days chasing the lake’s resident freshwater fish, with eels being a particular favourite.

In the wild the Californian sea lions main predator is the killer whale however at Longleat their biggest threat is hungry seagulls trying to steal their fish.