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Rearing two New Zealand fur seal (Arctocephalus forsteri) pups to weaning
Dowell, S.; Boren, L.; Negro, S.; Muller, C.; Caudron, A.; Gemmell, N. (2008). Rearing two New Zealand fur seal (Arctocephalus forsteri) pups to weaning. Aust. J. Zool. 56(1): 33-39.
In: Australian Journal of Zoology. Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization: Melbourne. ISSN 0004-959X; e-ISSN 1446-5698, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Dowell, S.
  • Boren, L.
  • Negro, S., more
  • Muller, C.
  • Caudron, A.
  • Gemmell, N.

    The rearing of two pups to weaning is a rare occurrence in pinnipeds and in many cases it remains unknown whether it is a result of twinning or fostering. This study followed two cases where female New Zealand fur seals (Arctocephalus forsteri) raised two pups, at a colony in Kaikoura, New Zealand. Maternal attendance behaviour was observed, mass and condition of the pups were measured and genetic samples were collected to assess relatedness. In one case, the female gave birth to twins, while the other case was found to be fostering of a second pup. In both cases, the filial pups of each female exhibited significantly lower mass, condition and growth rates than the colony average. The twins’ mother reared both pups to weaning and did not appear to spend a different amount of time ashore compared with single-pup mothers. The current study confirms both fostering and twinning in New Zealand fur seals, with the potential for successfully raising the pups to weaning, despite their well developed recognition system and the energy costs involved.

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