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Zoo location: 
Scientific Name: 
Neophoca cinerea
Species class: 
Population Trend: 
Quick Facts

Life Span: Average 12-16 years in the wild

Size: Males - 1.8-2.5m; females - 1.5-1.7m

Weight: Males - up to 300kgs; females - up to 105kgs

Collective Noun: Colony

Fun Facts

Structure: Their body is streamlined like a torpedo to enable them to glide through the water. Their forelimbs and hind limbs are flippers, formed by their long phalanges (finger bones), which are used for swimming.

Swimming: The front flippers are used in a winglike motion to propel the seal through the water, with the rear flippers acting like rudders.

Colouration: Adult males are chocolate brown in colour with a golden or creamy coloured patch of fur on the back of their head and neck.  Adult females are silvery in colour on their backs with cream down their sides and chest.

Staying Warm: Their thick fur allows them to live in extremely cold water.

Keeping 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

Sensitive Whiskers: 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 Australian Sea-Lion is a large sea mammal growing two and a half metres in length and weighing up to 220kg. Its body is streamlined like a torpedo to enable it to glide through the water. The male, called a bull, has a very thick neck and powerful shoulders. The forelimbs and hind limbs are flippers which are used for swimming. The hind limbs will move up and down propelling the Sea-lion forward, in a similar way to a dolphin’s tail. The males are chocolate brown in colour while the females are silvery in colour on their backs with cream down their sides.

At Taronga:

At Taronga Zoo we have 5 Australian Sea Lions. We have two females: Lexie (DOB: 02/2002) and Nala (DOB: 31/01/2009), and three males: Max (DOB: 09/03/2015), Malie (DOB: 11/2001) and Charlie, who is on a breeding loan from Sea World, Gold Coast as part of an endangered species breeding program.

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


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