LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Louisville Zoo announced six-year-old gray seal Rona has given birth to her first pup Monday.
The zoo said its staff had been monitoring Rona for several days, anticipating the birth. She finally welcomed the pup at 7:25 a.m. Both Rona and the pup are doing well, the zoo said.
Keeper staff reported that Rona is attentive with her first pup, and the first nursing at noon went well. The pup has been vocal and active, which indicates a healthy pup.
"The birth went very smoothly, with no complications," said Associate Veterinarian Dr. Julie Ter Beest. "We’re delighted to see that Rona’s maternal instincts appear to be strong. The pup is vocalizing normally, has nursed, and appears healthy."
Because Rona is a first-time mom, the zoo said both she and the pup will remain off exhibit for several weeks to prevent any disruptions of the bonding period. The sex of the pup is currently unknown.
The zoo said it will announce details for a naming contest at a later date.
Eight seal pups have been born at the zoo, including twin seal pups in the 1970s. Rona's pregnancy was a planned part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan for gray seals.
The pup currently has a soft white coat that will be molted by the time it is weaned, helping it become an agile swimmer. The zoo said it will document the pup's journey weekly on their website and Facebook.