Sea lion gives birth at Houston Zoo

Photo by Stephanie Adams/Houston Zoo

UPDATE: (Aug. 11, 2016) – The Houston Zoo’s baby sea lion has a name! The six-week-old female California sea lion has been named TJ by two of the zoo’s donors. Joe and Cathy Cleary won the honor of naming the pup at the zoo’s annual fundraising gala in April--Zoo Ball. The Clearys are longtime Houston Zoo supporters and have named the pup after their first two grandchildren, Tanner and Jack.


The pup has also begun swim lessons behind-the-scenes. Unlike most marine mammals, sea lions don’t swim when their born, so must be taught gradually by their mothers. TJ’s mother, Kamia, has been cautiously allowing TJ to play in ever-increasing depths of water under the careful supervision of her trainers. Currently, TJ is swimming in about three feet of water. Next, the trainers will continue to deepen the water in the pool, as well as begin introductions to the other three California sea lions, before making her public debut several weeks from now.


UPDATE: After taking time to bond with her mom, the new sea lion pup underwent her first exam the week of July 11, 2016. The Houston Zoo veterinary team confirmed that Kamia and Jonah are the parents of a healthy female pup! She is gaining weight, being introduced to water, and spending more time with her keepers.


The Houston Zoo announced July 6 the birth of a California sea lion. The pup was born to first-time mother, Kamia, on Tuesday, June 28, after a short labor. The pup and Kamia began to bond immediately, and nursing was spotted within hours. The sex of the pup has not yet been determined. The mother and pup will spend a while behind the scenes strengthening their bond before they are ready to make their first public appearance.

“The bonding between Kamia and her pup is going extremely well, and the pup is healthy, very active and very curious,” says Sophia Darling, supervisor of sea lions. “The pup loves exploring around the area!”

This birth is the first sea lion pup to be born at the Houston Zoo since 1994, and is the first offspring for both Kamia and father Jonah.

The sea lions at the Houston Zoo play a major part in the zoo’s Take Action conservation initiatives. As ambassadors for the sustainable seafood program, the sea lions help guests understand that the simple choices they make can have a big impact on animals. The zoo’s sea lions eat 23,850 pounds of responsibly caught, sustainable fish each year. Sustainable seafood is defined as seafood that is either responsibly wild-caught or farm-raised that not only keeps current populations of marine wildlife at balanced numbers, but ensures they thrive over the long term. The methods by which the seafood is harvested or raised must not cause undue harm to the ocean. The Houston Zoo strongly believes that embracing the use of sustainable seafood is one of the best ways we can all protect our oceans’ health. To learn more about sustainable seafood and all of the Houston Zoo’s Take Action initiatives, visit

— Houston Zoo