Blank Park Zoo
Blank Park Zoo

Open Daily, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
$18 adults, $12 children

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Open Daily, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
$18 adults, $12 children

View All Rates ›

Harbor Sea Pup Born at Blank Park Zoo

August 15, 2018

For a video of the announcement, click here.

For Immediate Release

DES MOINES, Iowa (August 15, 2018) – Iowa’s Blank Park Zoo announced today that “Meru” the harbor seal gave birth to a male seal pup on Saturday, August 4. The pup was approximately 30 pounds at birth. Both mom and pup are healthy and doing well.  

“The pup is feisty, a ball of energy and very spunky,” said Katie Lothrop, assistant area supervisor of carnivores and primates. “Meru has been a very good and protective mother.”

Keepers will soon begin the process of introducing him to his outdoor habitat, Hub Harbor, with his mother “Meru,” his father, “Ross,” and three California sea lions, “Addy,” “Zoe” and “Pupper.” Harbor seal pups are naturally weaned from their mothers at four to six weeks, so there will be times during the next couple of months that he will not be available for viewing. There has not been a seal born at Blank Park Zoo since 1992.

Because of injuries and ailments sustained in the wild, “Meru” and “Ross” were deemed non-releasable rescue animals and Blank Park Zoo gave them a permanent home in October 2011 and they made their official debut when the Hub Harbor seal and sea lion pool opened in early 2012.

The non-profit Blank Park Zoo is asking for donations in exchange for an opportunity to name the pup. Now through August 29, you can submit one name suggestion for a $50 donation and three name suggestions for a $100 donation. Since the pup will be a part of a positive training program, Blank Park Zoo animal keepers are requesting the names submitted be limited to one or two syllables. Zoo officials will then release the top suggestions for a public vote with a final selection announced by September 7. For more information, go to Blank Park for details.

“He will be a great ambassador for aquatic animals and our oceans,” said Lothrop. “While the harbor seals’ conservation status is listed as ‘least concern,’ they are facing pressures in natural areas with issues of poor nutrition because of a lack of fish to eat. This is due to over-fishing, rising ocean temperatures and ocean pollution, such as plastics.” 

The Blank Park Zoo Conservation fund has donated $1,000 to the Marine Mammal Center in honor of our pup.

About Harbor Seals

Harbor seals have grey spotted coats that are unique to each individual animal; they flop on land and have the largest range of all pinniped species. Harbor seals can be found in North America along both the Atlantic and Pacific coast lines. They lack external ears which aids in their movement through the water, and have large eyes to take in more light to aid in seeing underwater. A harbor seal’s whiskers are stimulated by vibrations, which aid in finding prey, and in natural areas they eat mostly fish and crustaceans as well as octopus and squid. Harbor seals can dive up to 1,500 feet and hold their breath for up to 40 minutes. Harbor seals live on coastal shores and are often seen on rocky islands, sandy beaches, mudflats, bays and estuaries.

About Plastic

One of the main hazards to ocean wildlife is discarded plastics, which affect nearly 700 ocean species. 18 billion pounds of plastic end up in the ocean every year. Animals become entangled and deaths occur from plastic exposure including non-biodegradable fishing nets and plastic packaging materials. More than 40 percent of plastics produced are used once and then disposed. Instead of biodegrading, plastics break down into smaller fragments, which can last for centuries, yet working life of many plastic bags is just 15 minutes.

How to Reduce Plastic Demand:

You can reduce the demand for plastic by not using plastic straws at home or at restaurants. Use reusable grocery/produce bags as well as reusable utensils.  Use refillable water bottles instead of single use plastic bottles. Utilize reusable containers to store food. Re-use old containers and jars. Use a lunchbox to transport food to school or work instead of a plastic bag, and avoid produce wrapped in plastic.

Take the pledge to reduce plastic use and ‘stomp the straw’ at:





Pictures and Videos, located here:

About Blank Park Zoo

Blank Park Zoo, Iowa’s WILDEST Adventure, is open 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. every day. Admission rates are $14 for adults, $8 for children under 12, and $11 for seniors and active military. Children two years and under and Blank Park Zoo members are free. The Zoo is located at 7401 SW 9th St., Des Moines, IA 50315. Visit the Zoo online at The Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) The AZA is America’s leading accrediting organization that sets rigorous, professional standards for zoos and aquariums. The AZA is building North America's largest wildlife conservation movement by engaging and inspiring the 143 million annual visitors to its member institutions and their communities to care about and take action to help protect wildlife.


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