Sea Lions

Sea lion banner featuring Bailey and Oscar

Our sea lions are making a splash at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo!

Our intelligent Californian sea lions - Dominic, Lara and Bailey - love to show off and demonstrate their natural behaviours for zoo visitors.

We also recently welcomed a new addition to our sea lion family - Baby Oscar!

Oscar was born to first-time parents Bailey and Dominic and is the first baby to arrive at the Zoo since dad Dominic was born in 2007.

Cheeky Oscar the sea lion pup

Say hello to little Oscar, our Californian sea lion pup!

Animal facts

Sealions are extremely agile in the water, using their front flippers to power themselves along. They have excellent underwater vision and their whiskers are very sensitive to vibrations in the water. The fur is short, sleek and waterproof.

Where they live

West coast of California (USA). Also Galapagos Archipelago


Sea, isolated beaches and rocky coastlines

What they eat

Octopus, squid and fish

Californian sealion at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Book Tickets

Book Zoo tickets online for a wild day out!

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s keepers have an exciting new addition to care for, with the arrival of a tiny California sea lion pup.

Born to first-time parents Bailey and Dominic on Thursday, 18 June, the two-week-old male, named Oscar is the first baby to arrive at the Zoo since dad Dominic was born in 2007.

After giving birth outside on the edge of the sea lion’s pool, Bailey has taken to motherhood swimmingly, and is already proving to be a doting mum to the incredibly lively pup.

Sea lion pup makes a splash!

Covered in a downy fur, Oscar will grow up to 7.5ft in length and is already showing similarities with dad Dominic - who was a notoriously cheeky pup – by demanding mum’s attention at all times.

Zookeeper Alex Pinnell is overjoyed at the new arrival and said: “The new pup is a great addition to the colony here at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo and the European conservation breeding programme for this species, and it’s brilliant for us to see Bailey being such a good mum.

“We’ve named the pup Oscar, which we think suits his personality, and as ‘O’ is the 15th letter in the alphabet, we’ll always easily remember that he was born in 2015!

“A new infant is not only exciting for the zookeepers, but also for the other sea lions as it’s something brand new for them and they all love the new addition to their group. We’re staying hands off for now, to allow them all to get to know one another.”

Originating from the rocky coastlines of the Pacific Ocean, all along the west coast of the USA, California sea lions live in large colonies, led by a dominant male and his harem of female mates.

Perfectly adapted to life on land and underwater, California sea lions have smooth streamlined bodies, and strong flippers to power them through the water in pursuit of their prey. Able to rotate their rear flippers forward, the sea lions are able to move comfortably on land where they usually breed and give birth.

Visitors to ZSL Whipsnade Zoo will be able to see Oscar and mum Bailey splashing around with the rest of the sea lion clan, dad Dominic and ‘aunt’ Lara.

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