PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium has a new resident at the Water’s Edge exhibit.
Nessie, the Northern Elephant Seal, is settling into her new digs and getting to know the other residents of the exhibit — Ellie Mae, who is also an elephant seal, and Nav and Piper, the sea lions.
In a press release, the zoo’s Curator of Aquatic Life Paul Moylett said: “She is doing very well. She is curious about Ellie Mae, as well as our sea lions Nav and Piper. It is a slow process and we are taking our cues from Nessie, letting her set the schedule for when she is comfortable enough to share space first with Ellie Mae and then sea lions Nav and Piper.”
Zoo officials call Nessie’s story one of “perseverance, strength and support.”
They say she was rescued, rehabbed, and then released five separate times.
After her last rescue, the Sea World San Diego Rescue’s Animal Care Team determined that Nessie was unable to survive on her own in the wild. They said that her ability to forage for food was never fully developed.
“Each time she was found, she was severely underweight and malnourished and had beached herself. Young northern elephant seals are left on their own at such a young age, that many don’t develop their natural instincts, such as foraging for food or finding shelter,” Moylett said in the press release.
The Sea World San Diego put a call into the Pittsburgh Zoo.
Moylett added, “When I got the call from Sea World San Diego about Nessie, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. We are definitely up to the challenge of caring for Nessie and we are looking forward to learning even more about northern elephant seals.”
After her arrival, Nessie spent some time in quarantine, and then moved to the Water’s Edge at the end of 2019.
The zoo’s male Northern Elephant Seal, Coolio, died last year.