NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB)- He’s feisty, playful, and a bit of flirt.
You’d never guess by looking at 1-year-old Stryker that the Harbor Seal pup almost lost his life.
He was hit by a boat in New Jersey earlier this year and needed one of his back flippers amputated.
Because he’s no longer able to survive on his own in the wild, he was brought to the Aquarium of Niagara.
“That lack of one hind flipper it really doesn’t hurt him that much,” explained trainer Hallie Schultz.
Stryker gets around quite well, but he’s not able to swim fast enough to survive against swift predators like sharks or Orca whales; allowing him to live at the Aquarium of Niagara will ensure his life isn’t cut short.
Stryker had to be quarantined his first 30 days at the aquarium, to make sure he didn’t get any of the animals sick.
So far, he seems to be loving his new roommates.
“We have toys out here all the time and he is just so playful. He also likes to play with Zara, our 3-month-old pup,” Schultz said.
Stryker, who was named by aquarium staff, spent several months at the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in New Jersey prior to his arrival in Niagara Falls.
“They were able to kind of work with him so he was eating fish out of their hands there, so it was actually very helpful for us because he already knew how to eat fish from us.”
Stryker’s best pal, Zara, might also become his mate down the road.
Staff said the pairs’ genetics are ideal for breeding; that process wouldn’t begin for a few years though.
“Birds of a feather fly together, so we have our two young Harbor Seals absolutely spending a lot of time which each other. They both have that very young and playful energy, and that’s pretty characteristic of a Habor Seal,” Aquarium of Niagara’s Executive Director Gary Siddall told News 4.
Styker’s presence has certainly drawn a crowd here, and that’s something staff is grateful for. Siddall said it gives them a chance to share with the public their true mission; conservation.
“There’s nothing better than you know, watching a family walk up to the Aquarium, look down at the seals, have that connecting moment. They want to learn more. It’s this great connective experience that really leads the public to be inspired to learn more and be part of the common good of protecting these animals.”