LINCOLN PARK — The Lincoln Park Zoo is caring for a baby gray seal, Fisher, who was born in January.
Jersey, an 8-year-old gray seal at the zoo, gave birth to the healthy, male pup Jan. 26, according to a zoo news release. Staff are caring for Fisher because Jersey did not display appropriate maternal instincts to care for and protect the pup, according to the zoo.
Lincoln Park Zoo’s Animal Care staff are working with experts from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Gray Seal Species Survival Plan to provide around-the-clock support to Fisher.
“We remain cautiously optimistic as the pup navigates toward weaning, or the advancement to solid foods, which typically happens around three weeks of age,” Mike Murray, zoo Curator of Mammals, said in the news release. “The pup’s progress thus far is a testament to the dedication of the Animal Care and Veterinary staff.”
The newborn is named after Lester E. Fisher, a former Lincoln Park Zoo director who died Dec. 22 at 100 years old.
Fisher weighed 30 pounds at birth. Gray seals give birth on land after an 11-month gestation period, according to the zoo. They then stay out of the water for the entire nursing period.
Pups are born with silky white hair called lanugo, but they molt into a darker coat around the time they’re weaned, according to the zoo.
Gray seals have short necks, widely set nostrils and fewer spots than some other seals, according to the zoo. They can grow up to 11 feet long and weigh nearly 900 pounds.
Females are silver-gray with scattered dark spots, while males are dark gray with silver-gray spots, according to the zoo.
More information on gray seals can be found on the Lincoln Park Zoo’s website.
Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps member covering Lakeview, Lincoln Park and LGBTQ communities across the city for Block Club Chicago.
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