Leo is a rescued Stellar sea lion who’s been living at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California. At 7 months old, the aptly named sea lion pup already weighs over 200 pounds, more than twice the amount he weighed when he arrived at the center. But in order to be fully rehabilitated—and released back into the wild—Leo must learn to play with others.
According to the Marine Mammal Center, socializing with other species will help the sea lion pup survive in the wild. The center video taped Leo making friends with four California sea lions—who are smaller. But size doesn’t determine rank, as the older sea lion Bubbly shows Leo. The other pups are closer in age to Leo.Leo was found orphaned on the beach in Ocean Shores, Washington. Underweight and too young to survive without his mother, he was temporarly taken to PAWS Wildlife Center in Lynnwood, Washington. But the center didn’t have other animals for him to socialize with, so he was transferred (with some help from the Coast Guard) to the Marine Mammal Center.
Stellar sea lions are considered to be “Near Threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The population that lives along the shores of California and up the West Coast of North America toward Canada was once heavily hunted. But thanks to protections in both the U.S. and Canada, this population of Stellars has been recovering steadily.
When Leo is strong enough to survive on his own, he will be reunited with other Stellar sea lions. You can read more about him here.