The Holekamp Aqua Tunnel is currently CLOSED.
Judy and Jerry Kent Family Sea Lion Sound combines the popular Sea Lion Basin and Sea Lion Show in a 1.5-acre spectacular new exhibit right in the heart of the Zoo. For the first time anywhere in North America, visitors can walk through an underwater tunnel into the sea lions' habitat to see the animals swimming all around them!
This $18 million, 1.5 acre exhibit offers a naturalistic setting for the animals in a landscape inspired by the Pacific Northwest coast.
Enterprise Rent-A-Car Family Sea Lion Landing is a spacious, year-round outdoor pool and habitat that features varying depths of water and rocky outcroppings. At one end of the pool is a shallow beach where animals can go for sun bathing, feeding and training. One of the notable features is a spectacular 35-foot-long underwater viewing tunnel, Holekamp Aqua Tunnel, where visitors can see animals swimming around them. The water becomes deeper at the other end of the pool, where visitors find an expansive window at the Underwater Cove to watch the sea lions underwater.
Admission to Sea Lion Landing is free.
The Lichtenstein Sea Lion Arena, home to the First Bank Sea Lion Show, features an 811-seat amphitheater, the large Ann Lux Family Stage, a 40,000-gallon see-through pool, a rock bridge extending into the audience and a high diving platform and slide – all designed to show off the sea lions' natural abilities. Audiences will be thrilled by the powerful swimming, flipper walks, balancing acts, and lots of splashing demonstrated by these incredible animals. See details on showtimes and prices.
Sea Lion Sound also has a new Sea Lion Care Center. A separate space dedicated to the animals, the staff and life support systems, this facility provides advanced care and management for marine mammals.
Efficient new systems are expected to save 11 million gallons of water each year at Sea Lion Sound. The new habitat is a saltwater environment containing nearly 250,000 gallons of water.
The sea lion habitat currently houses nine California sea lions and three harbor seals.
The main population of California sea lions is found along the west coast in the Pacific Ocean. Harbor seals are commonly found in the coastal waters of the North Atlantic and Pacific oceans. While both are marine mammals and powerful, graceful swimmers, sea lions and seals have distinct differences. Harbor seals and other “true” seals do not have external ear flaps, while sea lions and fur seals have visible, external ear flaps. Sea lions can rotate their hind flippers under their bodies, allowing them to walk easily on land. Seals do not have this ability and move about in an inchworm-like motion.
Sustainable Seafood and Ocean Conservation
All marine mammals are protected by the federally regulated Marine Mammal Protection Act. Though California sea lions and harbor seals are listed as "common" and not currently endangered in the wild, other marine species are.
Ocean animals are often accidentally caught during commercial fishing for other fish. It's important that consumers purchase seafood from suppliers that farm or fish in ways that will ensure the long-term health of the world's oceans, rivers and lakes. Visitors can pick up a Midwest Seafood Watch Pocket Guide at the Zoo for a list of recommended seafood choices (and those that are not recommended). A card can also be downloaded here.
Here are a few ways that humans can make a difference for marine mammals and other ocean inhabitants:
• Dispose of waste properly, and avoid using plastic bags – it can all end up in the ocean.
• Conserve water and energy use.
• Recycle paper, plastic, aluminum and glass.
• Reduce the amount of chemicals used on lawns and gardens.
• Eat seafood products that are sustainable.
• Reduce, reuse and recycle. Pass it on!