Sterling work with sea lions

Throughout lockdown our keepers have been carrying out sterling work with our sea lions as they continue familiarising the girls with the Ultra Pod.

The wooden pod, designed and built by DZC staff earlier this year, allows the veterinary team to hide away in the dark box to carry out ultrasounds on our female Patagonians through two opening slats, for internal organ investigations and to check for any signs of pregnancy.

While the zoo was closed, keepers have been busy working with the girls to get them used to the stress-free procedure, with one keeper stepping in as the vet with the ultrasound wand, while another brings the sea lion to the platform alongside the box, rewarding them with fishy treats.

Senior Keeper Josh Luxton, said: “This is known as desensitising training, so the sea lion gets used to process and the feel of the wand, which we use on their underside after carrying out their normal daily training on the platform.

“While the ultrasound is being carried out, we reward the behaviour we want to see with fish and ignore the behaviour we don’t.

“Each sea lion learns at a different pace, but that’s the fun of it and when the light bulb moment happens and they suddenly get it, it makes the work all worthwhile!”