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The Daily Beast - Gracie, a visually impaired seal and her newborn pup - April 27, 2011

Toronto Star Picture Editor Wanda Goodwin shares this delightful set of pictures of Gracie, a harbor seal and her newborn pup.  Gracie, a wild-caught rescue seal, arrived at the Albuquerque BioPark in 2004 after sustaining a gunshot wound to the head which caused significant eyesight loss.


Photos; Kari Vidmar, Katie Mast, Lynn Tupa / Courtesy ABQ BioPark




BioPark staff were concerned that her impaired eyesight might be a problem in motherhood, but Gracie relies on her other senses to communicate.




On April 13, eight-year old Gracie delivered the first seal pup to be born at the BioPark. Keepers arrived in the morning to find the 20 lb. newborn and her mother bonding well in the birthing pool.



The pup will remain off exhibit with her mother in the birthing pool until able to eat solid food. Visitors can see the baby on a looping video display at the exhibit.




BioPark staff observed no mating between Gracie and the father, Oakley, a 21 year-old harbor seal donated to the BioPark in 1992.  They were delighted when an ultrasound revealed Gracie’s weight-gain was due to pregnancy.




“Seals use scent and vocalization, so we’re finding that her eyesight is not an issue at all,” said Lynn Tupa, Zoo Manager.



Usually after nursing, they play in the pool together.




The pup is so cute.  She nurses often and communicates with mom constantly, so there is a lot of vocalization.




The Zoo will hold a naming competition on Mother’s Day.   Zoo visitors will be able to vote on their favorite name from options selected by keepers.




Fans of the BioPark’s Facebook page,  "http://www.facebook.com/abqbiopark" will also be able to vote on the name.



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These pictures are fantastic! Love 'em.

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