California Sea Lion

California Sea Lion (Zalophus Californianus)

Sea Lion Holding Fish
Judith Wolfe

Patiently waiting to eat her fish

Our collection includes: CPZ has four female California Sea Lions. April was born in 1991 in the Bronx. Katie was born in 2008 in the Bronx, Edith was born in 2010 at the NY Aquarium and Charlotte (Charlie) was rescued in the California waters in the summer of 2013.

See Them at the Central Park Zoo: In the large tank in the Temperate Zone in the Central Garden

Feeding Times: 11:30am, 1:30pm and 3:30pm

Found in the wild:  California sea lions are found along the western coast of North America, from Vancouver south to Mexico and off the Galapagos Islands.

Description: California sea lions are agile both on land and in the water. This is due to their long front flippers, strong enough that they can balance their weight on them. Considering a male sea lion may reach up to 1000 lbs., this is no small feat. Female sea lions may weigh between 100-400 lbs. and reach approximately 5-6.5 feet in length. The CPZ’s 2 female sea lions average between 200-400 lbs.  

Zoo Sea Lion Habitat: The large tank is lightly chlorinated and contains 148,000 gallons of water. The water depth is 8 feet and the tank is filtered at 400 gallons per minute.

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What do they eat: Adult California sea lions may eat 15-40 lbs. of fish and marine life a day. At the CPZ, the sea lions are fed capelin, herring, vitamin E, and salt supplements. Feedings coincide with behavior enrichment and training three times a day at 11:30am, 1:30pm and 3:30pm.

Life span: A California sea lion’s average life span is 17 years but can live much longer in captivity.

Two Sea Lions in the Snow
Judith Wolfe

Scooter & April in a winter snow


Threats: Pollution, over fishing, oil drilling and spilling, and coastal development.

Fun Facts: California sea lions are able to hold their breath for up to 15 minutes and dive to depths of 700 feet. They use their long front flippers to propel themselves in the water and can swim about 12 mph. But when they porpoise, an action that allows the sea lions to leap into the air while swimming and breathe without losing momentum, they may reach speeds up to 25 mph. This is comes in handy when trying to avoid a killer whale or a shark, or when hunting prey.



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