Senior Marine Mammal Keeper, Ryan Tate, said: “He’s been showing everyone who’s boss, pushing his whiskers forward, bellowing and mock charging at us. It’s pretty impressive for an animal that had a rocky start to life.”
The little male, while still covered in the soft, downy ‘lanugo’ fur of an infant, even helped his mother learn to feed him. Lexie was initially reluctant to roll onto her side for the pup to suckle, but he persisted, even nipping her until she allowed him to feed.
The youngster was the first pup born to mother Lexie, an orphan from South Australia, after seven years of trying. He was sired by Malie, a magnificent Australian Sea-lion bull born at Adelaide Zoo, who came to Taronga as part of the regional breeding program for these sea-lions.
The pup has been named ‘Maximus’, a combination of his parents’ names, by keepers with special input from a long-term supporter of Taronga’s marine mammal programs.
Ryan said: “He’s now been putting on 100 grams a day. He began learning to swim a few weeks ago in a special pool we have in which we can control the depth. At first he was just walking through puddles, then as he got more confident Lexie started calling him into deeper water.”
The youngster can now be spotted with his mother in the pools at Seal Cove above the Zoo’s Lower Entrance