Australian Sea Lion

(Neophoca cinerea)


Australian Sea Lion IUCN ENDANGERED (EN)


Facts about this animal

The Australian Sea Lion has a robust stocky body (particulary males), a relatively large head with a long, narrow snout. Their flippers are short and narrow. 


Males can reach a length of 2.5 m and a weight of 300 kg. The colour of their fur is brown and darkens further as they mature. They have rough coarse hair around the neck which resembles a mane. Females are considerably smaller, reaching a lenght of 1.8 m and a weight of about 100 kg. Their fur is silvery-gray or light brown, underparts are even brighter.


Australian Sea Lions form small breeding colonies of a several hundred or fewer, yet except for the actual breeding season, they are mostly asocial. They evidently do not migrate and spend more time ashore when molting (renewal of body fur).


The breeding cycle is unusal compared to other seal species, it is a 18 months cycle (as opposed to the 12 month cycle natural for all other seal species) and is not synchronized across colonies.  Australian Sea Lions do not appear to be polygynous breeders, they engage in serial monogamy. Hence males do not claim a territory and defend it against intruders, but stay with a single female for several weeks until mated, then returing to the sea to feed and start looking for the next female.


Gestation last about 12 months. If the female does not give birth the consecutive seasons, pups may be nursed up to 2-3 years.


Relatively few is known about the diet, what has been observed so far suggests a variety of fishs, octopus, squid and occasionally penguins.

Did you know?
That the Australian Sea-lion is the only pinniped species which is endemic to Australia? It is also the least numerous pinniped species in Australia.


Name (Scientific) Neophoca cinerea
Name (English) Australian Sea Lion
Name (French) Lion de mer australien
Name (German) Australische Seelöwe
Name (Spanish) León marino australiano
CITES Status Not listet
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Kerri Afford



Range Along the coasts and on islands of West- and South Australia
Habitat Breeds and hauls out on smooth rocky reefs and sandy beaches on the sheltered sides of islands and on the Australian mainland.
Wild population 13,790 individuals and decreasing (2003-2007) (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 7 reported to ISIS (2007)

In the Zoo

Australian Sea Lion


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
Kerri Afford

Why do zoos keep this animal

Australian Sea Lions are exhibited in a few Australian 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 sea lions.