Kaiako is our resident New Zealand fur seal, rescued from the wild as a pup after being hit by a boat which permanently damaged his flipper. Unable to be released back into the wild with his injuries, Kaiako instead has lived a full and happy life in Auckland Zoo’s ‘The Coast’.

Now in his golden years, a little more care, special attention and thought needs to go into managing his wellbeing. As a geriatric animal, Kaiako gets regular check ups from our vet team, especially looking for any signs of deterioration in his vision or mobility after he recently developed a cataract in one of his eyes.

With Kaiako’s low vision, the team has had to adjust the way they work with him – rather than teaching our seals visual cues we are now teaching them verbal and physical cues. Thankfully, keeper Laurel says Kaiako is ‘a real smart cookie’ and has adjusted perfectly!


Our vets check up on our elderly fur seal Kaiako!

It’s really important to ensure our older animals still have a great quality of life, despite any age-related conditions that begin to occur. Our keepers have a strong relationship with the animals, and often can tell if something is wrong straight away by noticing things like a change in appetite, how they’re moving, and any behavioural changes. When certain issues, such as a deterioration in vision occurs, vets get involved more regularly to monitor the situation, so informed decisions can be made down the track.

Kaiako and his Sub-Antartic fur seal friend Orua can both be found at ‘The Coast’ on your next visit. Although they are both rescue seals that are unable to survive in the wild, they will still amaze you with their intelligence and their grace in the water.

Did you know? Every zoo visit you make contributes towards conservation both in New Zealand and overseas, allowing us to do things like rescue native species, rehabilitate them, and give them a home at the zoo when they are unable to go back to their own! Thank you for your contribution!