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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 chats daily. Bring your questions and watch them work!
Zookeeper Life: Stephanie

Meet our sea lions

Bjorn
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

Meet Clara the Sea Otter

CLARA THE SEA OTTER MAKES DEBUT She’s calm and patient – and loves participating in training and enrichment sessions with her keepers. Clara, the newest southern sea otter, made her … Continued

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Penguin Nesting Season

It’s penguin nesting season at the Zoo! As of late April, keepers had observed three eggs laid from penguin pairs Yellow & Orange (1 egg) and Pink & Red (2 … Continued

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Pufflings Are Here!

On a rainy, late-summer morning in Tacoma, keeper Cindy is watching the puffins. She’s drenched, but that’s just part of the job she loves. The “unglamorous” part of keeper life … 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.