South African fur seal

(Arctocephalus pusillus)


South African fur seal IUCN LEAST CONCERN (LC)


Facts about this animal

The adult male seal is just over 2 m long and weighs about 200 - 300 kg. It has a powerfully developed neck with a mane but lacks the crest on top of the head found in the Sub-Antarctic fur seal (A. tropicalis). Females are much smaller (about 1,5 m) and weigh between 50 and 75 kg.


The coarse outer hair of bulls may be greyish-black with a tinge of brown. Females tend to be more brownish-grey. The coat of newborn pups is black and velvety.


Within Southern African waters there are some two dozen breding colonies. In mid-October the adult males move to the "rookeries" to establish territories, which they actively defend against rival bulls. The females arrive several weeks later to give birth. A territorial bull establishes a harem of several females, with which he mates about 5 to 6 days after they have given birth. The territories and harems break up towards the end of December.


The diet of South African fur seals consists of shoaling fish such as pilchards, other fish, squid and crustaceans.

Did you know?
That the scientific name of the South African fur seal is misleading? "Pusillus" means "the smallest or very small", but actually Arctocephalus pusillus is the biggest species of the Gender Arctocephalus.


Name (Scientific) Arctocephalus pusillus
Name (English) South African fur seal
Name (French) Arctocéphale d'Afrique du Sud
Name (German) Südafrikanischer Seebär, Südafrikanische Pelzrobbe
Name (Spanish) Lobo marino de El Cabo, Lobo marino australiano
CITES Status Appendix II
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Vladimír Motyčka



Range Southern and southeastern coast of Australia and southern and southwestern coast of Africa.
Habitat On land: rocky inshore islands, on sandy beaches, bare rock, boulder or pebble beaches, and sometimes caves. When they are at sea they do not travel far from land.
Wild population About 1.5-2 million in Africa and 30'000-50'000 in Australia
Zoo population 104 reported to ISIS (2007)

In the Zoo

South African 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


Photo Copyright by
Noodle Snacks

Why do zoos keep this animal

South African 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.


Arctocephalus p. pusillus is not threatened in the wild, and no major coordinated breeding programme has been established.