OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT)-- A new state-of-the-art sea lion exhibit is in the works to enhance the experience for both the sea lions and the Henry Doorly Zoo guests. It is expected to open by Labor Day, 2020.
Gemini, 9, and her pup, born Wednesday, June 12, 2019. (Courtesy of Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium)
It’s time for the sea lions to move into a new 27.5 million dollar renovated oasis of their own. The sea lion’s new home may look familiar, it is where the bears used to be. The zoo is re-purposing the retaining wall to create the new 275,000 gallon pool, according to zoo director, Dennis Pate.
According to a Pate, the new sea lion exhibit will offer a one of a kind, ocean simulated experience for the sea lions.
“We expect that this will be the exhibit that other people will travel to see how they can make it even better when they do it,” said Pate, referring to other zoos looking to improve the lives of their animals.
The pools and sun bathing rocks will be heated in the winter and cooled in the summer. New technology will also offer a zoning affect. This will create warm and cool spots throughout the pools, so the animals have their choice of temperature throughout the day.
Special crevices placed within the rocks will offer hidden frozen fish sleeves that will slowly defrost fish into the pools, reminding the animals to hunt and to keep them entertained.
A special “pupping beach” is a feature being added that hasn’t been seen before, according to Pate. Pups cannot swim within the first 1-3 weeks of life and this enclosed beach will allow them to be a part of the experience but safe from harm.
Pate said the exhibit will be interactive for both adults and children.
An underwater cave, sand castle beach and a climbable over look are a few of the features in the works for the children.
An amphitheater and underwater ocean experience will be offered to everyone.
The amphitheater will display the handlers caring for the sea lions for all to watch. The underwater ocean experience will give you an inside look at what the animals are up to under the sea, this is possible by a filtration system being put in place for clear water.
“A lot of really nice features for the animals and a lot of different viewing perspectives for guests,” said Pate. “For interpretation we plan on of course talking about the natural history of sea lions, but we also plan on talking about ocean health and what people in Nebraska can do when they come to the zoo.”