Time to say ‘sea you later’

by ZSL on

Alex Pinnell, Senior Zookeeper at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

The day has finally come for us all to wave goodbye to our sea lion colony at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, as their new home at Yorkshire Wildlife Park is ready for them to move in.

We’ve been working up towards this for a long time, but the impact of COVID-19 has been far reaching - as we all know - and the move of our family has been one of many that was put on hold while projects were paused, and animal moves were not allowed. 

However, moving an animal isn’t as simple as packing some snacks for the road (although we’ll obviously make sure we have plenty!) and setting off early to beat the traffic - it takes a lot of planning and preparation to ensure everything goes smoothly.

We’ve spent the past year training the sea lions to walk into their travel boxes, this regular training means they’re really familiar with the crates and know that it’s a safe place to be. The training also allows us to see who’s more comfortable, and who might need a little extra attention on moving day. Just like us, they’ve all got their own personalities! 

We’re working towards completing the moves in the second week of February – we’ve not got a set date as we’re going to let the sea lions dictate the pace – if Maui wants to play, or Lara wants a quick swim, that’s fine, we’ll go when they choose to get in their boxes! 

Keepers received pictures and cards from children saying goodbye to our sea lions

It’s no secret at all that I loved the additional time that the delay gave me with Dominic, Bailey and the rest of the flippered gang, and it’s also meant that our wonderful members and supporters have been able to enjoy them for a bit longer too. Through our Facebook Lives, broadcast from the pool here at Whipsnade directly to people’s homes up and down the country, the sea lions have helped us to keep people connected with wildlife, put a smile on people’s faces through lockdown and help us raise thousands of pounds for ZSL while we’ve been closed to the public. They also got to star in our ITV documentary “London Zoo: An Extraordinary Year” as the crew followed our plans for their departure. 

While the extra time we’ve had makes it no easier to say goodbye, we’re all so excited for their future, knowing they’re going to a wonderful place with an amazing new home, that’s been built just for them. 

We’re sorry that you won’t be able to come and see them before they leave, but please join us in sending them off with a big virtual wave. Please do tag us @zslwhipsnadezoo on Instagram or Facebook with any pictures of the sea lions at Whipsnade – the colony will be leaving a lasting impression on us all.

Select a blog

Careers at ZSL

Our people are our greatest asset and we realise our vision for a world where wildlife thrives through their ideas, skills and passion. An inspired, informed and empowered community of people work, study and volunteer together at ZSL.

Nature at the heart of global decision making

At ZSL, a key area of our work is the employment of Nature-based Solutions – an approach which both adapt to and mitigates the impacts of climate change. These Solutions, which include habitat protection and restoration, are low-cost yet high-impact, and provide multiple benefits to people and wildlife. We ensure that biodiversity recovery is at the heart of nature-based solutions. 

ZSL London Zoo

A blog for lovers of ZSL London Zoo, bringing you extraordinary animal facts and exclusive access to the world's oldest scientific zoo.

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Do you love wildlife? Discover more about our amazing animals at the UK's biggest zoo!


We're working around the world to conserve animals and their habitats, find out more about our latest achievements.


From the field to the lab, catch up with the scientists on the cutting edge of conservation biology at ZSL’s Institute of Zoology.


A day in Discovery and Learning at ZSL is never dull! The team tell us all about the exciting sessions for school children, as well as work further afield.

Artefact of the month

Every month, one of the pieces held in ZSL’s Library and at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo will feature here as Artefact of the Month.

Wild About

Read testimonials from our Members and extracts from ZSL's award winning members' magazine, Wild About.

Asia Conservation Programme

ZSL works across Asia, from the famous national parks of Nepal to marine protected areas in the Philippines. Read the latest updates on our conservation.

Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation

An Open Access journal for research at the interface of remote sensing, ecology and conservation.