Securing a shared future for wildlife and people Watch the Video
Zoo location: 
Scientific Name: 
Arctocephalus forsteri
Species class: 
Least Concern
Population Trend: 
Quick Facts

Life Span: 12-15 years in the wild

Size: Males - 1.5-2.5m; females 1.3-1.5 m

Weight: Males - 90-180kgs; females 35-50kgs

Collective Noun: Colony

Fun Facts

Sealing Industry: New Zealand Fur seals were almost wiped out by sealers in the 1800’s but their numbers have steadily increased. Their fur pelts were one of Australia’s first exports to China.

Keeping Warm: New Zealand Fur Seals have a thick double layer of fur, which keeps them warm and allows them to inhabit cool waters.

Staying Cool: In order to help cool down, seals raise a flipper to the cool breeze out of the water, which cools down the blood in that flipper and they can then pass that cool blood around their body

Their whiskers work as sensors so that they can detect movement in dark waters to find a meal.

Differences between ‘true seals’ and ‘eared seals’:

True seals, such as our Leopard Seal, differ from other pinnipeds (‘wing footed’ mammals – seals, walruses etc.) in two easy-to-recognize ways. They lack external earflaps and they can’t “walk” on land like eared seals can.

Despite lacking external earflaps, they can still hear through small holes on the sides of their heads that connect to internal hearing organs.

True seals are unable to “walk” on all fours because their back flippers cannot bend forward under their body. Instead, they move like a worm by pulling their heavy bodies forward with their strong front flippers.

Additionally, true seals swim by using their rear flippers while eared seals swim by using their fore flippers. When it comes to scratching, it's the opposite; true seals use their fore flippers while sea lions use their rear flippers. And in general, true seals have more blubber and are more streamlined than eared seals.

Differences between seals and sea-lions:

The sea-lions and fur seals that you see in Taronga’s Seal Show are all ‘eared seals’.  They differ by the fur seals having two layers fur, whilst the sea-lions only have one layer fur.


The New Zealand Fur Seal  is a species of seal native to Southern Australia and the South Island of New Zealand.

At Taronga:

At Taronga Zoo we have two New Zealand Fur Seals, Mav (DOB: 12/2000) and Ronnie (DOB: 12/2006).

Our seals are conditioned to cooperate with our keepers to allow us to keep them in their best health. Through conditioning we can check their teeth, flippers and eyes. We can even ultrasound our seals, which can help to determine if our females are pregnant.

Our seals only eat the best fish to keep them healthy but their tastes can rack up quite a bill.


Year assessed: