California Sea Lion

(Zalophus californianus)


California Sea Lion IUCN LEAST CONCERN (LC)


Facts about this animal

The California Sea Lion is slender-bodied (although males are rather robust around the chest and shoulders), has a long, straight and narrow snout and the flippers are long and broad.


Males weigh up to 340 kg and reach a body length of 2.4 m, their fur colour ranges from dark brown to black, often with a light tan on the face. Females are generally no larger than 100 kg and 2 m long, their fur coloured in tan.The most prominent  feature of a male is the high forehead, pronounced by the sagittal crest. Males lack the conspicuous mane around the neck and chest which is characteristic for the males of other seal speciesThe whiskers help the seal's sense of touch and are used to detect food in the water.


California sea lions are highly social animals living in large, but unstable groups during the non-breeding season, females remain staintionary while males and juveniles migrate north for the winter.


During the summer-long breeding season, the animals gather by the thousands on isolated coastlines and islands. Males try to claim and defend a territory agianst other males an even non-conspecifics. Their harem can consist of up to 15 females. During that time, males compete with ritualized physical display (aggressive posturing, vocalizations and sometimes actual physical combat).


Gestation lasts 9 months. Pups are usually weaned after 6 months (in rare cases they are nursed up to one year).


California Sea Lions feed on a wide variety of seafood including fish, shellfish and squid. They are infamous for approaching fishing boats and siezing fish from lines or nets.


Did you know?
Where the name sea lion is derived from? They produce a loud roar which resembles a lion's roar


Name (Scientific) Zalophus californianus
Name (English) California Sea Lion
Name (French) Otarie de Californie
Name (German) Kalifornischer Seelöwe
Name (Spanish) Lobo marino de California
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed



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© Vassil



Range range from the western shore of Mexico (Baja California), along the coasts of the United States up to British Columbia
Habitat Sandy or rocky flat beaches where there is vegetation for shade, tide pools to keep cool and good access to calm waters.
Wild population 355.000 individuals (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 481 reported to ISIS

In the Zoo

California 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


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© Intothewoods

Why do zoos keep this animal

Californian Sea Lions 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 sea lions.