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California sea lion

Did you know?

Zalophus californianus

How can you tell the difference between a seal and a sea lion? Seals have ear holes, while sea lions have ear flaps. They also “walk” on land using their fore-flippers, while seals scoot on their bellies.

Discover Sea lions

Habitat
Wild and Zoo
California sea lions live in coastal waters from Canada to Mexico, and in the Galapagos Islands. Find our sea lion in the Rocky Shores habitat area, just next to the Pacific Seas Aquarium.
Rocky Shores
Meet the Keepers
Kind of splashy.
Our keepers give unscheduled chats daily, to avoid congestion. Bring your questions and watch them work!

Meet our sea lions

Matia
Eloise
Boomer
Eating
(and predators!)
California sea lions love to eat – rockfish and anchovies, krill and squid.
Sharks, orcas and humans are their three main predators.
Calling
for dinner
Sea lions gather in huge colonies on seaside rocks for breeding and birthing.
Mothers have special calls to identify their pups to feed them.
Diving, growling
and breath-holding
Sea lions are very noisy – they bleat, growl, roar and bark to warn intruders, attract mates and more. Males defend their territory fiercely.
They’re also very fast swimmers (up to 25 miles per hour underwater), and can dive for nearly 10 minutes without breathing.

Protecting Marine Wildlife

Tangled and oil-coated

THE THREAT: While sea lions are widespread, all marine mammals face human-caused threats: oil spills, chemical pollutants, entanglement in fishing debris and human harassment.

TAKE ACTION: You can help all sea animals by speaking up against off-shore oil drilling, and doing the right thing with plastic trash. Refuse single-use plastics altogether.

Marine Stories

2020 Year in Photos

What a year this has been! From clouded leopard AI to a new muskox calf, from Zoolights to HeroRATs and everything in between, we’ve captured this year in our best photos of 2020.  

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Farewell, Walrus Boys!

They were rescued together as orphaned calves. Then they went to live at separate zoos for seven years before reuniting as “teenagers” here at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. Now, Pacific walruses Mitik and Pakak are moving out to the exciting world of a walrus harem to be with – and hopefully breed with – … Continued

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Thanksgiving Feast for the Animals

Just as humans get excited for a full plate of food- so do animals. Some of the Zoo’s animals were recently given their own Thanksgiving feast, thanks to the creativity of zookeepers. HeroRATs- mini feast, tiny food The HeroRATs received a festive meal, including pumpkin pie! Staff Biologist Jessie Sutherland and Zoological Aid Natalie Lind … Continued

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Who's Nearby?
Love our sea lion? Then try to spot our harbor seals! They alternate pools in the Rocky Shores habitat.