Our Californian Sea lion, Troy has been impressing visitors and trainers alike, with his recent progress on the ball balance behaviour.
Sea lions are often associated with balancing balls, but the reason why they are so capable at it is often overlooked.
Seals’ whiskers, though themselves just brittle keratin (not dissimilar to fingernails), have tiny, sensitive nerve fibres at their base.
These are invaluable when it comes to hunting in a dark and murky ocean. They are also what enable a seal to balance a ball, because as they do so, it’s those whiskers that detect which way it’s falling, so they can move their flexible neck and spine to keep it balanced up on top.
While Troy’s trainer, Ang, guided him in where she’d like him to take the ball, it was soon Troy who took the lead, carrying the ball right up the stairs to the top of the wharf for a little more showing off.
It’s more than we were expecting, but who are we to stand in the way of creativity?