Grey seal in exhibit

Grey Seal

Scientific Name

Halichoerus grypus

Class

Mammalia

Order

Carnivora

Range

North Atlantic Ocean and Baltic Sea

Habitat

Rocky continental coasts, isolated islands, icebergs, and ice shelves

Estimated Wild Population

More than 250,000
Grey seal in exhibit
IUCN Conservation Status: Lower Risk - Least Concern IUCN Conservation Status: Lower Risk - Least Concern

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Physical Description

Grey seals have short necks, widely set nostrils, and few spots compared to some other seals. They can measure up to 11 feet long and weigh nearly 900 pounds. Females are silver-gray with scattered dark spots while males are dark gray with silver-gray spots. Grey seals are opportunistic predators, feeding on fish, crustaceans, and mollusks. Females reach sexual maturity after about four years and give birth to a single pup with dense, woolly white fur after an 11-month gestation period. Pups grow quickly by nursing on fat-rich milk.

Interesting Fact 1

When hunting, grey seals use their sensitive whiskers to detect hydrodynamic currents generated by schools of fish.

Interesting Fact 2

Powerful webbed flippers with strong claws help seals dive to depths of nearly 1,000 feet to catch fish.

Interesting Fact 3

Adults have two layers of thick fur and a thick blubber layer to keep them warm.

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Species Survival Plan®

We cooperate with other members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to manage the zoo population of this species through a Species Survival Plan®.

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Animal Care staff working with seal

Commitment to Care

Lincoln Park Zoo prioritizes individual well-being over everything else. Guided by scientific research, staff and volunteers work to provide the best welfare outcomes for each individual in the zoo’s care.

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Asian small-clawed otter in exhibit

Wish List

The Wish List is full of one-of-a-kind items for the zoo’s animals, including nutritious snacks and enrichment items to keep them active and healthy. 

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Take Action With Us

Wildlife face many daunting challenges—some global, like planet-wide climate change, and some that affect individuals, like an animal ingesting plastic—but now is not the time to despair. None of these problems are too big for us to come together and solve.

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