A sea lion pup born at the Brookfield Zoo has made his public debut.
The new pup, named Charger, was born on June 10 to 9-year-old Josephine. His mom led the way to the outdoor habitat at the zoo’s Pinniped Point Friday, where crowds could see him for the first time.
Since his birth, Charger has been indoors learning to swim and bonding with his mother. He weighs nearly 40 pounds, and keepers estimate that he has almost doubled his birth weight due to the high fat content of his mother’s milk. Sea lions can nurse from anywhere between six months to a year, though zoo staff does plan to steadily introduce him to a fish diet soon.
In 2017, Charger’s mom gave birth to one other pup, Lucy, who still lives at Brookfield Zoo. Josephine was born in the wild in San Francisco, but was abandoned by her mother before being rescued and brought to Brookfield Zoo in 2010.
California sea lions are not an endangered species, but they face increasing challenges in the wild including fishing lines, toxic waste dumping and dwindling food sources.