The Seattle Aquarium has a new resident—Chewbacca, or Chewy as he’s affectionately known, a 12-year-old male northern fur seal who came to us from the Moody Gardens aquarium in Galveston, Texas!
Accompanied by one of his keepers and our own staff veterinarian Lesanna Lahner, Chewy arrived at the Aquarium yesterday via transportation donated by FedEx Express. He appears to be settling in beautifully. Although he’s undergoing a routine quarantine from Commander, our other male fur seal, he’s still available for public viewing. After the quarantine period, which should last several weeks, the process of socializing Commander and Chewy will begin.
Adult northern fur seals spend the majority of the year in the North Pacific Ocean looking for food. Only when they come ashore during the summer for mating season do they interact with other seals. Though it’s natural for fur seals to spend most of their lives alone, nonbreeding males are sometimes seen socializing in bachelor groups. “That’s the situation we’re replicating here at the Seattle Aquarium,” notes Curator of Mammals and Birds Traci Belting.
Chewy was born at the New York Aquarium to a father named Yoda. He is one of only 11 northern fur seals in zoos and aquariums throughout the United States. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan manages northern fur seals, with the goal of ensuring the sustainability of a healthy and genetically diverse population. The Seattle Aquarium has housed northern fur seals since opening in 1977 and was the first facility to have a northern fur seal pup conceived in captivity, born in a zoo or aquarium and survive into adulthood. A male born here at the Aquarium 14 years ago, Isaac, is currently on a breeding loan the New England Aquarium and has sired two pups!
Come meet Chewy during your next visit to the Seattle Aquarium! To learn more about northern fur seals, click here.