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Meet New York Aquarium's adorable new harbor seal pup

Sidney was found abandoned in California and rescued before flying to New York.

Shaye Weaver
Written by
Shaye Weaver

The New York Aquarium has a furry new resident who's gotten a fresh lease on life here in NYC.

Sidney, a female harbor seal pup who was rescued as a newborn near Abalone Point in Laguna Beach, California, arrived at the aquarium in November and has been living her best life at the zoo's Sea Cliffs exhibit.

Sidney was only hours old (and likely born prematurely) when she was discovered alone on a rocky beach in February 2020. Her umbilical cord was still attached but her mother never appeared.

Sidney the harbor seal pup
Photograph: Courtesy PMMC

The team at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center (PMMC) in Laguna Beach brought Sidney back to their facility, where she got around-the-clock care for one month, including feedings every two hours to help her gain weight!

The Wildlife Conservation Society says these first few weeks are crucial because they are normally spent nursing and learning basic survival skills from the seal's mother. Unfortunately, despite PMMC's efforts, Sidney wasn't able to develop the skills needed to survive in the wild.

Because of that, plans were made to transfer her to The New York Aquarium. Staffers from the aquarium flew to California to meet and bond with Sidney, and once she was comfortable enough and trained to voluntarily enter her transport crate, she was ready to travel. 

Sidney the harbor seal pup
Photograph: Courtesy PMMC

When she arrived in November, aquarium staffers worked closely with her every day to help acclimate her to the new digs and smoothly transition into the harbor seals colony there.

Sidney already has a best friend here in NYC. She's bonded closely with Murphy, another female harbor seal born at the aquarium last summer. They are often seen playing together.

"We are grateful for the excellent care that the rescue team at the PMMC provided Sidney, and we will make sure she is well cared for at the New York Aquarium," said Craig Piper, Interim Director of the New York Aquarium and WCS Director of City Zoos. "We’re proud to partner with other conservation organizations to help individual animals like Sidney while also working to protect entire species and their habitats around the world. As New Yorkers come to see Sidney, she will be an endearing ambassador for her species and other marine life, which we believe will have a positive impact on the way people think about and engage with nature."

Sidney the harbor seal pup
Photograph: Julie Larsen Maher / WCS

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