Keepers design Ultra Pod

When the zoo’s veterinary team needed somewhere dark to aid ultra scan procedures for our female sea lions, our clever keepers got to work designing the Ultra Pod!

The wooden pod features a boxed area for the vet to get into, while keepers can position the sea lion on a platform at the side, with two slats in the in between wall able to be opened for the vet to scan the sea lion’s underside.

Acting Team Leader Sam Grove, said: “With past ultrasounds we had nowhere specific to keep the sea lions still for the vet to be able to scan them.

“They also need a dark area around the portable monitor to be able to see the sonogram clearly, so we decided to design something which we could use for this purpose.

“The zoo’s maintenance team then built the pod from our drawings, which we’ve decorated with informative signage to explain to visitors what it’s for and we’re really happy it’s working exactly as we hoped!”

With the promise of some extra fishy treats, keepers can entice the sea lions onto the platform and because they can’t see the vet, who’s hidden away inside, the non-invasive procedure is totally stress-free. And the sea lions like the pod so much that they’ve been spotted snoozing on the platform even when it’s not in use!

A sea lion breeding season can last for several months and during that time the male will protect his harem of females fiercely – and you may see our 19 year-old male bull, Oba, displaying the same behaviour towards our three girls Deisy, Marina and Tania here at the zoo when the time arises.

Once keepers spot mating occurring, they will then organise for ultrascans to take place monthly to check for any potential pregnancies as sea lion females can delay implantation, so flippers crossed we’ll have some baby news to share from the moat pools in the near future!