South American fur seal

(Arctocephalus australis)


South American fur seal IUCN LEAST CONCERN (LC)


Facts about this animal

Male South American fur seals measure 1.8 meters and weigh up to 200 kilos. Females are much smaller; measuring 1.4 meters and weighing 60 kilos.


Adult males are dark grey and females are a slightly lighter shade.


Breeding groups are normally established in rocky places, in Peru the species breeds also in huge sea caves. In November, the adult males move to the "rookeries" to establish territories, which they actively defend against rival bulls. The females give birth in November or December. A territorial bull establishes a harem of up to 15 females, with which he mates about 5 to 6 days after they have given birth.


The newborn pup has a body-weight of 3 to 5 kg. It is born black and gains adult colouration after abouth three months. It suckles for 6 to 12 months, and learns swimming before the age of two months.


The diet of South American fur seals consists of a wide variety of fish, squid and, in some parts of its range, krill (Euthusia sp.).

Did you know?
that females mate soon after pupping, and then spend much of their time at sea, returning only every few days to suckle their pups?


Name (Scientific) Arctocephalus australis
Name (English) South American fur seal
Name (French) Otarie à fourrure australe
Name (German) Südamerikanischer Seebär
Name (Spanish) Lobo marino de dos pelos
Local names Other Spanish names: Lobo fino austral, Lobo marino peletero Portuguese: Lobo marinho
CITES Status Appendix II
CMS Status Appendix II



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Range South America, southwestern Atlantic and southeastern Pacific region: Brazil from Rio de Janiro on southwards, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Falkland/Malvinas Islands.
Habitat Primarily in coastal, continental shelf and slope waters and on rocky shores.
Wild population Approx. 250,000-300,000 (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 30 reported to ISIS (2007)

In the Zoo

South American fur seal


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 76 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


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Why do zoos keep this animal

South American fur seals are exhibited in many zoos and aquariums because of their naturally inquisitive nature and their ability to playfully interact with other animals, humans and their surrounding environment. This connection allows the zoos and aquariums an excellent opportunity to educate their visitors about the role these animals play in the natural environment. Importantly, any animal presentations should convey a strong conservation message that benefits the entire species of fur seals.


Although the species is not threatened in the wild, a coordinated breeding programme has been established in Europe with a view of maintaining a self-sustaining ex situ population.