Two baby sea lions, whose mother gave birth to them at Pier 39 and abandoned them there for reasons unknown, have settled into their new home at Brookfield Zoo outside Chicago. They don't have names yet, but they were born in June and subsequently picked up by the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito where they were nursed for a bit and then sent to SIx Flags in Vallejo for a month before making the trip to Chicago.
As the Chicago Tribune reports, El Nino may be to blame for the mother's choice not to seek out a more private beach to give birth as sea lions typically do, and subsequently to abandon her pups.
El Nino, the atmospheric phenomenon that visits the coast every five years or so and heats up coastal waters, returned last winter, Oswald said, driving fish that sea lions feed on far out to sea, leaving pregnant sea lions malnourished, unable to get to birthing rookeries and forcing them to leave the babies to find food.
The mothers also may have fed on fish poisoned by algal blooms in the ocean, which periodically cause disorientation, lethargy and seizures in sea lions.
PREVIOUSLY: The Mystery of the Missing Sea Lions Is Solved!