It’s a boy
After much anticipation, (18 months to be exact)proud parents ‘Adelaide’ and ‘Ozzie’ are delighted to announce the safe arrival of ‘Hugo’. Hugo was born at 11.30 pm on Saturday 28th September, (AFL Grand Final Day) weighing in at 5 kgs and 30 cm long. While it has been 11 weeks since his birth, Dolphin Marine Conservation Park are also now ready to announce his arrival to the public.
It should be noted that Hugo is not your average bouncing baby boy. Nicknamed ‘Huggie’ by his doting carers, Hugo is an endangered Australian Sea-lion.
He was born at Dolphin Marine Conservation Park (DMCP) in Coffs Harbour as part of the Australasian Species Management Program (ASMP). The ASMP
is collaborative program conducted by zoos in Australia to maintain viable populations of endangered species.
Now almost three months old, Hugo is the first baby for mother ‘Adelaide’ an Australian sea-lion who was rescued and raised at Dolphin Marine Conservation
Park. Despite being orphaned 12 years ago, Adelaide’s maternal instinct kicked in immediately, and Hugo is thriving. Today he weighs a healthy
17kgs and Hugo drinks from Adelaide every day. While Adelaide’s milk is Hugo’s meal of first choice, he is now experimenting with the odd fish.
Milk is still his favourite though!!
Hugo’s father is ‘Ozzie’, Dolphin Marine Conservation Park’s largest sea-lion weighing in at a massive 150kgs. Ozzie was also born at the park as part
of the ASMP for this species.
The team at Dolphin Marine Conservation Park have commented on the remarkable likeness between Hugo and his dad Ozzie.
“Hugo looks like his father with his tongue always sticking out!”, laughed carer Antigone “Tig” McElroy. “He is the loudest sea-lion at the park too!
We can hear his unique call everywhere. He sounds much like a goat!”
“Hugo loves exploring and is always watching seagulls fly past. He certainly isn’t shy and is very curious and adventurous, always keen to play with
something new. Nothing startles him”, she said.
Park Vet, Dr Duan March supervised the birth with the help of the entire marine mammal team from Dolphin Marine Conservation Park who worked around
the clock to ensure the safe arrival of Hugo.
Dr March explained the importance of the breeding program. “Historically, the Australian Sea Lion was heavily hunted, and whilst this doesn’t happen
today, a lot of the research indicates that population numbers are still declining. These animals face a range of threats in the wild, including
mortalities due to entanglement in fishing gear and disease and a lot of their natural habitat is degraded or over fished. These captive breeding
programs are an important insurance policy in case numbers continue to decline in the wild, and they are also great ambassadors for their wild
counterparts, as the seals are used to educate visitors to the park on the threats facing this species and what they can do to help.”
There will be private sessions available where limited numbers of visitors to DMCP can see Hugo interacting with his carers. These sessions will be
after hours and carefully supervised so that Hugo can become slowly accustomed to the attention he is no doubt going to receive on a daily basis
once he is old enough. Keep an eye on DMCP’s Facebook page and Website so you don’t miss out on your chance to meet this cute little Australian