Baby sea lion to make appearance at Prague Zoo

The day-old pup will be on video at an already planned birthday party

A baby South African sea lion was born at Prague Zoo on Friday morning and will already makes its debut on Saturday at 1:30 pm during the already planned birthday party for Mamut, a male sea lion who is turning 2 years old.

The gender of the new baby is not yet known. The still unnamed baby will appear at the party via video on a big screen, as it is too young for all the excitement of a crowd. The baby will be with its mother Abeba for a few weeks still before it can appear in person.

The baby is the fourth offspring of 14-year-old Ababa. The father is named Meloun. Altogether, there are 15 sea lions at the zoo.

“We have great joy, and we have decided to share it with the visitors,” zoo director Miroslav Bobek said. "Tomorrow afternoon, visitors will have a unique opportunity to watch the young pup on video. People will not see the young pup in person until late in the summer, and it will look different from now, immediately after birth,” he added.

The gender will be determined in a few days, and then the breeders will decide on the name. Mamut, who celebrates his birthday tomorrow, was named for his robustness and rapid growth. This time they will be thinking of a more African name.

He will likely be upstaged at his own party by the newcomer, though. The planned party will have actress Petra Špalková, who has won awards for her work in films like Jako nikdy and Smradi.

The birthday sea lion will get fish-flavored ice cream and toys including a braided rope.

Mamut is very playful and has become a favorite of zoo visitors. He loves to play in the water with father, Meloun. “Mamut is very intelligent, kind and playful. The exercise he enjoys best of all is flapping, which was the first thing he learned,” zookeeper Jakub Mezei said. “Recently he has been beginning to discover the typical features of male behavior. As a partner he likes Ronja, and they have become inseparable,” he added.

Mamut was born May 27, 2015, on the beach and sea lion exhibition. He is the grandson of the legendary Gaston, who swam the Vltava River during the 2002 floods from Prague to Germany, but died from exhaustion.

Prague Zoo has been keeping South African see lions since 1991.

The zoo recently welcomed its 60 millionth visitor since it opened 86 years ago. In 1931, when it opened just 20,000 people visited. Last year that grew to 1,448,353 people in a single year.

Prague Zoo was ranked the fourth-best in the world by users of the travel site TripAdvisor in July 2015.

Last year saw the birth of two baby elephants. Other births last year included an aardvark, a giraffe, a gorilla, a viper, a rare giant rat and a rare African openbill. The zoo saw a total of 1,191 juveniles in 223 species.

Prague Zoo opened in 1931. It currently covers 58 hectares with 50 hectares used for exhibits. It has over 4,700 animals from 681 species, including 144 species listed as threatened. The zoo has 12 pavilions and over 150 exhibits. It has been particularly active in the preservation of the Przewalski's horses, which are slowly being returned to the wild.

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