A mother sea lion and her pup kiss

Photo: Mark Van Bergh/Smithsonian's National Zoo

Aquatic frolic

Sea lion Cali and her 2-year-old pup Sophie swim together inside the newly opened American Trail seal and sea lion exhibit at Smithsonian's National Zoo.

Coinciding with the opening is the addition of three gray seals named Gunther, Kara and Kjya and two harbor seals named Luke and Squeegee to the zoo's pinniped ranks. You can see more of the animals below.

The state-of-the-art habitat features two massive pools that utilize wave machines to mimic natural coastal waters and provide sensory stimulation for the animals. Most pinnipeds in human care are used to fresh water, but the zoo plans to acclimatize the animals to a more natural salt water habitat by slowly increasing the salinity of the pools over time.

The upgrade comes on the heels of the National Zoo's new elephant community center, which debuted in late March.

To stay up to date on the latest pinniped antics, follow the National Zoo on Twitter using the hastag #PinnipedParty.

* * * 
 
Trainer works with seals

Photo: Abby Wood/Smithsonian's National Zoo

* * * 
 
Adorable gray seal with big eyes

Photo: Abby Wood/Smithsonian's National Zoo

* * * 
 
Happy harbor seal floats in the water

Photo: Abby Wood/Smithsonian's National Zoo

* * *