The Crusader Newspaper Group

Grey Seal Born at Brookfield Zoo

 A week-old grey seal pup and his mother, Georgie, at Brookfield Zoo. They are currently behind the scenes bonding, but the Zoo will be posting updates on the pup’s progress on their social channels. (Credit: Brookfield Zoo)

Brookfield Zoo is happy to announce its newest addition—a grey seal pup born on February 17. The male pup, who weighed nearly 35 pounds at birth, will remain behind the scenes for approximately the next month and a half with his 11-year-old mother, Georgette, nicknamed “Georgie.” The pup has also been introduced to a pool that has been modified to allow him easy access out of the water when he’s not practicing his swimming skills. While he is off habitat, the Zoo will be posting updates of the pup’s progress on its social channels.

This is Georgie’s first time experiencing motherhood since she arrived at Brookfield Zoo in 2020. As a pup, Georgie was found stranded on an island in Georgetown, Maine, near the Atlantic Ocean in 2013. It was determined that she is fully blind in the left eye and functionally blind in her right eye. Due to her impaired vision, authorities from the National Marine Fisheries Service deemed her unreleasable back to the wild.

“Even with her loss of vision, Georgie is being a very attentive mother to her pup,” said Mark Gonka, associate director of marine mammal care and conservation. “Grey seals have a keen sense of smell as well as a repertoire of vocalizations. Georgie is able to locate her pup by his distinct smell and call.”

A male grey seal pup born at Brookfield Zoo on February 17. He is currently behind the scenes bonding with him mother, Georgie. (Credit: Brookfield Zoo)

The pup’s sire, 23-year-old Kiinaq (pronounced KEY-knack), was also stranded in the wild and deemed unreleasable when he was only a few months old. Since arriving at Brookfield Zoo in 2018, he has sired three pups. With both parents being of wild descent, the birth of the new pup is helping to increase the genetic diversity of the grey seal population in accredited North American zoos and aquariums. Currently, there are only 22 grey seals in seven accredited U.S. zoos and aquariums. Brookfield Zoo has the largest group with six individuals.

Since his birth, staff has been monitoring the pup, charting nursing bouts and developmental milestones, including alertness, mobility, and weight. In his first week, the pup has gained 15 pounds. A grey seal mother’s milk is extremely rich in fat, and it is not unusual for the pup to gain several pounds a day. While nursing for the next few weeks, he can easily gain about 100 pounds, developing a thick layer of blubber. Once weaned, he will be introduced to a fish diet.

At birth, grey seals are born with silky white fur called lanugo (pronounced la-NOO-go) that molts at about a month old. The species has one of the shortest nursing periods among the pinnipeds (web-footed marine mammals). In the wild, grey seal pups need to grow quickly because once weaned they are on their own and need to be able to fend for themselves as they go out to sea to hunt for food.

Found in the Western North Atlantic, the Eastern North Atlantic, and the Baltic Sea, the grey seal is listed as least concern on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources’ Red List. However, the species still faces threats such as entanglement in fishing gear, illegal hunting, chemical contaminants, vehicular traffic on beaches, and climate change.

About the Chicago Zoological Society

The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by connecting people to wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. Brookfield Zoo is the first zoo in the world to be awarded the Humane Certified™ certification mark for the care and welfare of its animals, meeting American Humane Association’s rigorous certification standards. The Zoo is located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield, Illinois, between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and also is accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294),Metra commuter line, and CTA and PACE bus service. For further information, visit

Recent News

Scroll to Top