Saturday, September 11, 2010

Elephant Seals in captivity

Elephant seals are deep water animals that spend only part of their time on land. I thought it would be impossible to keep one in captivity. However, another docent found these examples of Southern Elephant Seals being kept in European zoos. The film is of Goliath, who was sent from Hamburg to visit the Basel, Switzerland zoo in 1938:

He translates the description of the film as:

He was sent by train in a 20 cubic meter crate. It took two days from Hamburg to Basel. He was only there for a visit, but became a big attraction. He weighed in at around 3 tons, was 4 meters in length, and ate 50 kilos of herrings a day while in Basel. You will see him "catching" a few from his trainer in the video. It took 10 men, some winches and a tractor to transfer him from train to wagon to zoo.

This photo was taken in 1975 in the Berlin Zoo. The caption translates into: You don't get to do a tooth check without a bribe of some sort!

In this picture, Roland V gets a 'snowmassage' from his keeper in the Berlin Zoo. It isn't dated.
These photos are remarkable -- for the familiarity the humans have with the seals, and for the fact that the seals survived at all, apparently healthy and content. I plan to research this further and see what I can learn.

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