Gray Seal Born at National Zoo

Friday, Jan 31, 2014  |  Updated 2:28 PM EDT
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Photo: Christina Castiglione, Smithsonian's National Zoo

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The National Zoo says it's providing supplemental feedings for one of its newest residents.

The gray seal pup was born Jan. 21 to 30-year-old mom, Kara.

Zoo keepers began tube-feeding the pup when it became clear that Kara was not producing enough milk.

“Our animal care team is always prepared to hand rear or hand feed an animal if they need to,” said Ed Bronikowski, senior curator at the Zoo. “In the first days of this pup’s life we did not see her gain as much weight as we would have expected."

The pup is tube-feed six times a day, and Thursday, keepers were able to hand-feed the seal a small caplin fish.

While Kara is not fully lactating, the zoo says, Kara is still "nursing her pup and is an attentive mother." The 30-year-old seal is the oldest gray seal to give birth in a zoo. The last gray seal pup born at the National Zoo was Kara's sister, Kjya, in 1990.

Native to Canada, northern Europe, eastern Europe and Scandinavia,

If all goes well, Kara's pup will join its mom, dad, aunt and grandma in the American Trial exhibit in the spring. Two harbor seals also call the exhibit home.

The zoo has been home to a baby boom in recent months.

Last week, the zoo welcomed two African lion cubs.

Five-month-old panda cub Bao Bao met her adoring public for the first time earlier this month, and after adorably passing a swim test, the zoo's Sumatran tiger cubs, Bandar and Sukacita, made their public debut back in November.

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