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Sunday, April 14, 2024
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nick the sea lion pic

The National Zoo welcomes Nick the sea lion

Nick’s second-chance at life and finding his temporary new home

The Smithsonian's National Zoo has welcomed Nick, the California sea lion, to the American Trail exhibit

Ellie Tahmaseb, a public affairs specialist at the National Zoo, told The Eagle in an email that Nick was found alone with his umbilical cord still attached off the coast of North Laguna, California, and was rescued by the Pacific Marine Mammal Center

Rehabilitators raised Nick and deemed him non-releasable. He was then placed at the Denver Zoo when he was 10 months old. 

Nick, who is now 16 years old, is temporarily staying in D.C. while the sea lion exhibit at the Denver Zoo undergoes renovations. He will return back home when construction is complete. 

He has adjusted well to the change in environment and is friendly with the other sea lions in the exhibit, according to Tahmaseb. Nick is also getting along with his new zookeepers. 

Nick spends his time swimming, playing and eating fish in the main pool of the American Trail exhibit. He loves to splash around in the water and happily catches the food his keepers throw at him. 

California sea lions and gray seals are the two pinniped species cared for at the National Zoo. Pinnipeds are marine mammals with finned-feet including seals, sea lions and walruses. 

California sea lions, also known as “eared seals,” have features such as ear flaps and large flippers that distinguish them from gray seals. They are most commonly found along the Pacific coast of North America and the Gulf of California. 

Nick is representing his sea lion community well and serves as an ambassador for wildlife protection. While sea lions are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, they still play a crucial role in food webs as they maintain stability in ecosystems. 

The National Zoo hopes Nick will inspire visitors to protect sea lions and their habitats. Many conservation efforts including recycling, reducing the use of harmful chemicals and sustainable fishing practices can limit habitat destruction. 

To learn more about Nick and his story, visit Smithsonian’s National Zoo and see him before he returns to Denver. 

This article was edited by Clair Sapilewski, Sara Winick and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Luna Jinks and Sarah Clayton.

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