Unfortunately, there is sad news from Frankfurt Zoo again: already on 03 May, the South African fur seal OTTI died. A few days before his death, the keepers of the zoo noticed that OTTI, who was almost 20 years old, was not doing well. He refused to eat and stayed exclusively in the large water tank. Even with fish and good coaxing, he could not be brought ashore. In order to make a veterinary examination possible, the water in the basin was drained on May 3. However, it did not come to the examination, because the sea bear died the same evening. "During the autopsy at the LHL (Landesbetrieb Hessisches Landeslabor), an extensive tumor was found, which extended from the subcutis deep into the musculature, as well as its metastases in the lungs," explained veterinarian Dr. Nicole Schauerte.
The fur seals inhabit the marine waters of southern Africa and live in a so-called harem structure with an adult bull and several females. OTTI was responsible for the offspring in the Frankfurt fur seal group for many years: He had offspring a total of 17 times. Many of his offspring live in zoos around the world. In December 2021, his two sons EMIL (8) and SAMU (6) moved to Brazil.
With the death of OTTI, there are initially no more fur seals at Frankfurt Zoo. Currently, both facilities in the seal cliffs are used by the seals. At the moment it is still unclear with which seal species the enclosure can be reoccupied. Several possibilities are currently being examined together with the studbook coordinators of the European conservation breeding programs. "We definitely want to continue keeping eared seals, not least to show the differences to harbor seals, which include our harbor seals. In eared seals, in contrast to the even further adapted to life in the water, for example, outer ears are still visible, hence the name," Schauerte said.