The Zoo is excited to welcome a female harbor seal that arrived April 6 from the Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines, Iowa. As with all other incoming animals, Mira completed a quarantine period to make sure she was healthy when she joined other seals in the Zoo’s population.
Mira was born Aug. 7, 2021, at the Blank Park Zoo to parents Ross and Meru, both 12 years old. Mira resided in the Hub Harbor Seal and Sea Lion habitat with her parents and two female sea lions, Zoey and Meatball. Interestingly, Ross and Meru had one other surviving offspring, a male, and he now lives at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska with Milo, a harbor seal pup born at MCZ.
Animal caregivers at the Blank Park Zoo started a training program with Mira. She knows several behaviors, mainly for husbandry purposes so she can participate in her own healthcare, without the need for anesthesia. With cues from her zookeepers, Mira can lay still, follow, stand on a scale for weight checks, and allow care staff to touch her entire body. She also learned how to allow for voluntary medical injections and crating for transport purposes. Zookeepers describe Mira as curious but cautious, and that she enjoys interacting with zoo guests through underwater exhibit windows.
As the Milwaukee County Zoo animal care team continues to work with Mira, they say she started out a bit nervous about her new surroundings. However, it was a positive sign when she started eating fish left in the pool for her. She also ate fish tossed into a pool – but only when zookeepers would look away. Keepers comment Mira is progressing by “baby steps!”
Keepers describe her as very petite with a small head and face. Her body size is not much bigger than MCZ’s 1-year-old female, Leia, even though Mira is almost a year older.
Mira’s favorite game is playing with water from a running hose, and she liked to explore all the indoor and outdoor quarantine spaces and splash in her saltwater children’s pool. Very recently Mira moved to her outdoor habitat where she ventured into the outdoor pool as Leia and adults Cossette and Ringo, already in the pool, intently watched her make a small-splash entrance!
It’s the Zoo’s hope that once Mira is old enough, she will breed with wild-born male, Ringo. Keepers say the addition of Mira will be beneficial for Leia, both as a companion and playmate.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), harbor seals are listed as a species of Least Concern. Harbor seal populations are currently stable in the wild.