Two of Auckland Zoo’s specialist seal keepers were happy to step in and help our Department of Conservation (DOC) colleagues with one very beautiful marine mammal today (13 July).

With the great support of two local community members, our highly experienced keepers Corryn and Odin safely captured a kekeno (New Zealand fur seal) from Auckland’s Portland Reserve in Remuera and then transported and released it to the quieter coastal habitat of Muriwai.

As these photos/video show, once the door of its transport crate was opened, this kekeno was off in a flash down the beach and into the open ocean to start the next phase of its life. We’re delighted that this could be achieved on the eve of Matariki!

DOC’s Auckland Mainland Acting Operations Manager Molly Hicks says it is common for kekeno to haul themselves up onto land and rest at this time of year, and it normally takes a hands-off approach with the species

“This kekeno appeared healthy and well, and was clearly loving its time on land, but with the growing attention it had been garnering we decided, with the Zoo, that it would be safer and less stressful for it to be moved to a quieter coastal habitat. We’re very grateful to the local community for reporting the seal and treating it so respectfully over the past few days,” says Molly.

With a growing population of kekeno around Aotearoa, Aucklanders can expect to see more seals in urban areas of Tāmaki Makarau.

Everyone can help keep seals (and themselves) safe by enjoying seals at a distance, keeping your dog leashed and at least 20metres away, and staying alert to animals on the road when driving in coastal areas – especially at dawn and dusk.