Sea lions make a splash at Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium

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by Tami Hoey

Video report by Ryan O'Donnell

Posted on May 15, 2014 at 10:47 AM

Updated Thursday, May 15 at 12:50 PM

LITCHFIELD PARK, Ariz. -- A new attraction is making a big splash at Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium in Litchfield Park.

Meet the two female juvenile California Sea Lions who now call the Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium home.

On Thursday's Good Morning Arizona, Ryan O'Donnell got the chance to feed them some herring for breakfast!

The sea lions join the collection of more than 600 avian, terrestrial and aquatic species at the Zoo. These are the only marine mammals in Arizona, and the first sea lions on permanent display in the state in about 40 years.

The sea lions can be viewed daily at their indoor pool habitat at the Wildlife World Aquarium. An additional outdoor exhibit pool and formal public educational demonstrations are planned for the fall.

California Sea Lions are found along the coast of California north to Canada and
south to Mexico. Unlike true seals, sea lions have external ear flaps along with rear flippers that
can be folded underneath their body for upright mobility on land.

The rear flippers on seals can only point backwards, which means sea lions are much more mobile on land than seals.

As mammals, sea lions share the same characteristics as most other mammals. They have hair,
give live birth (usually one), nurse their young, and are endotherms, meaning they maintain a stable
body temperature by generating heat internally from the food they consume.

Sea lions possess a thick layer of blubber to aid in thermoregulation and insulation as well as
buoyancy. Sea lions have large eyes for excellent vision above and below the water surface.

The creatures have keen hearing, and eat a variety of fish types including herring, squid, octopus, sardines and dozens of other schooling fish species.

With torpedo shaped bodies, sea lions are incredibly acrobatic swimmers. Their normal cruising
speed is usually much less than their maximum speed bursts of up to 20-25 MPH. Using their
front flippers for locomotion, sea lions have been observed diving to depths of 700-800 feet and
may hold their breath for several minutes at a time.

Sea Lions are highly intelligent animals. Wildlife World Zoo staff members  have already taught them how to use a platform scale to measure their body weights each morning as part of a comprehensive
preventative health care husbandry program.

"Sea lions were among the first species that I had the privilege to work with early in my career.
It's fair to say they taught me more about positive reinforcement-based training than any other
species I've encountered. All of us at Wildlife World are excited to offer our guests the
opportunity to experience these amazing animals," said Dr. Grey Stafford, Director of Conservation.

The new habitat features an indoor exhibit pool constructed from materials designed to withstand
a salt water environment. At approximately 4 times the cost of regular concrete, the type used is
adapted for use around salt water. The exhibit also features indoor and outdoor dry haul out
areas with aluminum gates, misters, and natural sunlight.

Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium

Location:
16501 W. Northern Avenue
Litchfield Park, AZ 85340

For information:
Call: (623) 935-WILD (9453)

or visit: wildlifeworld.com

Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium is open seven days a week, 365 days a year, including all holidays.

Zoo exhibits are open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
(last zoo admission is at 5:00 p.m.)
Aquarium exhibits are open from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Daytime Admission to Zoo & Aquarium
Adults: $32.00 + tax
Kids 3 to 12 Years: $15.25 + tax
Under 3 years: Free

Special Evening Admission to Aquarium-Only (Available after 5:00 p.m.)
Adults: $16.99 + tax
Kids 3 to 12 Years: $8.99 + tax
Under 3 years: Free

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