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Youngest Member of the Sea Lion Colony at Shedd Aquarium Celebrates His One-Year Birthday on World Ocean Day

Kenney Arrived at Shedd in September and Has Since Met Most of the Sea Lion Colony

June 08, 2023

Kenney, a California sea lion, vocalizes on the ledge of a pool, on his one-year birthday

Photo by: ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

Today, June 8, marks the one-year birthday for Kenney, a California sea lion pup (Zalophus californianus) at Shedd Aquarium. He joined the colony last year when he was three months old, which makes him the youngest sea lion in the aquarium’s history. Kenney’s birthday falls on World Ocean Day, an international awareness day to celebrate the ocean and encourage action to protect the planet.

Shedd’s animal care team provides hands-on care to ensure Kenney reaches key development milestones. This includes observing his growth, facilitating socialization with the animal care team and the other sea lions at the aquarium, and providing training and enrichment sessions. Within the last several months, Kenney has met almost all the other sea lions living at Shedd - Tanner, Laguna and Cruz. When Kenney arrived, he weighed around 30 pounds. Since then, he has more than doubled in weight, having recently weighed in at 65 pounds - and he is continuing to grow.

The best gift Kenney and other aquatic animals can receive on this day is public action to protect the ocean and all the environments that connect to it. Some ways to help are:

  • Sign up for regular email updates from Shedd – including timely and tangible action alerts offering ways to act and advocate for wildlife.
  • Join Shedd for a cleanup event to help remove trash and invasive species from local aquatic environments. Efforts locally, via the many connections between water bodies, can help to support clean environments for marine and freshwater life globally.
  • Hop in a kayak to monitor native habitats with Shedd’s Kayak for Conservation program – no kayak experience is required to learn more about Chicago’s rivers on these guided paddles.
  • Choose sustainable seafood, when possible, to help maintain and protect the fish, squid, crab and clam populations sea lions and other aquatic animals rely on as food sources.

About Kenney: Kenney was sired by Charger at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo before the pair came to live at Shedd. Three-year-old Charger was sired by Tanner – one of Shedd’s rescued sea lions from the Bonneville Dam – during his time at a zoological facility accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). This means Shedd is now home to three generations of sea lions under one roof, and the story demonstrates the broad impacts and legacy that a second chance at life can have for a single rescued animal like Tanner. More information about the pairs’ arrival is available online.

Kenney remains behind the scenes for now and continues to thrive with his caretakers and companion sea lions. Shedd will continue to provide updates on when guests can expect to see him in the sea lion habitat.

About California sea lions: Found in western North America, on rocky beaches and man-made environments ranging from southeast Alaska to Central Mexico, and in the surrounding sea outside of breeding season, California sea lions can be differentiated from seals by their large front flippers and small, but visible flaps covering their ears. Adult males, also called bulls, can grow up to more than 1,000 pounds and 8 feet long. Adult females - called cows - can grow to reach more than 200 pounds and 6 feet in length. California sea lions can reach speeds of up to 25 mph and dive 450 feet deep, staying submerged for up to 20 minutes. Using their large front flippers, sea lions can even run on land faster than humans.

VISUALS: High-resolution images and video are available to download:

Photo Credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

Video Credit: ©Shedd Aquarium /Sam Cejtin