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Two New Sea Lions Transferred to Alaska SeaLife Center from the Netherlands

Seward, AK - March 24, 2011 - This week the Alaska SeaLife Center welcomed two new Steller sea lions from the Dolfinarium in the Netherlands.  Sitka, a four year old female and Pilot,  a one year old male are returning to their ancestral home.  The parents of both animals are from Southeast Alaskan waters.

Sitka will be part of the ASLC sea lion breeding program and joins Tasu, Eden and Sugar, which brings the total to four female Steller sea lions now in residence at the ASLC.  Steller sea lions are listed as an endangered species, and the ASLC Steller sea lion breeding program addresses several key recovery actions outlined in the 2008 Steller Sea Lion Recovery Plan.  As a young male, Pilot adds to the social and group dynamics of the ASLC population and will provide valuable data on a young, growing male.

Brett Long, ASLC Director of Husbandry, spent a week at the Dolfinarium getting to know the animals prior to the transfer. He was able to observe the animals during feeding and training sessions in order to help facilitate a smooth transfer to the ASLC. During transfer, Brett was accompanied by ASLC Veterinarian Dr. Carrie Goertz.  The transfer began with a flight from Harderwijk to Los Angeles, continued with a flight from Los Angeles to Anchorage, and ended with a drive from Anchorage to Seward.  This totaled more than 8,100 miles and close to forty hours to complete the international journey.  During the transport ASLC staff worked to keep the animals comfortable and calm while ensuring and guiding their safe handling.  Both animals were calm and relaxed during the transport.

"We are building a great international partnership that we hope will continue long after the transfers," said Dr. Lori Polasek, the lead scientist for this program at the Center, and also an Assistant Professor in the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

During their 30-day quarantine, both sea lions will be visible to ASLC visitors from inside the Research Overlook.   Following that time, both sea lions will be introduced to our current resident Steller sea lions, Woody, Sugar, Tasu and Eden.

The Alaska SeaLife Center is a private non-profit research institution and visitor attraction which generates and shares scientific knowledge to promote understanding and stewardship of Alaska's marine ecosystems.  For more information regarding the new Steller sea lions, or any other part of the Alaska SeaLife Center please reference the Alaska SeaLife Center website at www.alaskasealife.org.



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