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Zoo cares for orphaned baby albino seal after mom dies

Sad news from Germany’s Dortmund Zoo: Shortly after the public debut of an extremely rare — and extremely adorable — baby albino fur seal, the seal pup’s mom died suddenly.Zoo officials happily introduced the baby South American fur seal to visitors and photographers for the first time mere days ago, on July 20. The seal pup delighted onlookers by snuggling up to his mom, Harimée, nuzzlin
Caroline Seidel / AFP - Getty Images / Today
South American fur seal mother Harimée and her albino fur seal pup visit the outdoor enclosure for the first time at the Dortmund Zoo in Germany on July 20.Caroline Seidel / EPA / Today

Sad news from Germany’s Dortmund Zoo: Shortly after the public debut of an extremely rare — and extremely adorable — baby albino fur seal, the seal pup’s mom died suddenly.

Zoo officials happily introduced the baby South American fur seal to visitors and photographers for the first time mere days ago, on July 20. The seal pup delighted onlookers by snuggling up to his mom, Harimée, nuzzling her nose and draping himself over her back. Harimée had given birth to her exceptional albino baby on May 26; mom and pup stayed out of the limelight until last week so the pair could bond and adjust to their new life together.

A comfortable perch: A rare albino fur seal sits on his mom, Harimée, on July 20 at the Dortmund Zoo. The baby seal was born on May 26, and his mother died shortly after this photo was taken.Tim Schulz / AP / Today

The Dortmund Zoo announced on its website that Harimée died suddenly and unexpectedly at age 16. Female South American fur seals can live up to 30 years, and the zoo plans to conduct an autopsy to determine her cause of death.

In the meantime, zoo workers have taken Harimée’s still-unnamed baby boy back behind the scenes so they can feed him by hand and keep a close eye on him. Young albino fur seals can experience a range of health problems, including visual sensitivity.

Baby albino fur seals, like Harimée's offspring pictured here, can have a host of health problems including visual sensitivity.Caroline Seidel / AFP - Getty Images / Today

The Dortmund Zoo website says the baby albino fur seal will be given everything he needs, including a swimming pool and other fur seal pals for companionship. Zoo officials asked visitors to be understanding about their decision to put the pup back in isolation: “The welfare of the animal is paramount.”

This is not the first time the Dortmund Zoo had to raise an orphaned seal pup by hand. A young male named Samson — not an albino— lost his mother in death at the zoo in 2006.

Zoo visitors are still being invited to vote for their favorite name for Harimée’s newborn seal pup. Name options include Chilo, Albus, Claro, Rubio and Branco.

Here are some additional photos from mom and baby’s last moments together:


Now without his mother, the baby albino fur seal will be kept out of the public spotlight and will be hand-fed by zoo workers.Caroline Seidel / EPA / Today
Caroline Seidel / AFP - Getty Images / Today
Caroline Seidel / AFP - Getty Images / Today
Caroline Seidel / AFP - Getty Images / Today
Philipp Guelland / AP / Today

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