Louisville Zoo celebrates Mother’s Day with baby boom

Tonie, a 20-year-old harbor seal, gave birth to her first pup — on her birthday.
Tonie, a 20-year-old harbor seal, gave birth to her first pup — on her birthday.(Louisville Zoo)
Published: May. 9, 2022 at 9:01 AM CDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WBKO) - The Louisville Zoo celebrated Mother’s Day with their own baby boom – a harbor seal birth as well as zebra and giraffe pregnancies.

Tonie, a 20-year-old harbor seal, gave birth to her first pup — on her birthday.

Staff welcomed the female pup on Friday, April 29, at 1:33 a.m., so Tonie and her offspring officially share a birthday. Harbor seal Oscar is the father.

The Zoo also announced giraffe Kianga and zebra Azizi are both expectant mothers.

“All Zoo births are exciting, especially when we welcome our first-ever harbor seal pup,” said Louisville Zoo Executive Director Dan Maloney. “We are also excited to announce two additional expectant animal ambassadors, giraffe Kianga and zebra Azizi. We can’t wait for our community to watch their journeys and greet these new arrivals.”

The seal pup and mom are doing well, according to zoo officials.

Louisville Zoo keepers report that mom is attentive and showing good maternal care. Vocal and active, the pup even swam within a few hours of her birth.

“The pup was alert and feisty during the neonatal exam done at about 36 hours of age,” said Louisville Zoo Senior Veterinarian Dr. Zoli Gyimesi. At the time of the exam, the pup weighed 13.5 pounds.

“We are carefully monitoring her nursing bouts and body weight,” Gyimesi said. “To make sure she is getting enough calories and staying hydrated.”

Since Tonie is a first-time mom, the Zoo is taking extra precautions to prevent any disruption of the bonding period with her pup. Mom and pup will remain off exhibit for several weeks while the two bond and until the pup is weaned and eating fish. For now, guests can follow the journey of Tonie and her pup live on the Zoo’s seal cam at

The Zoo will be asking the public to help decide on one of the three possible names for the seal pup. Since her parents are Oscar and Tonie, the Zoo is sticking to an awards theme with the options Emmy, Grammy and Nobel. Zoo guests can even donate to help name the pup at

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