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California Sea Lion

Sea Lion

Animal's Behavior

Sea lions are adaptable, intelligent and engaging – so much so that it’s sometimes easy to forget they are wild animals with considerable strength. Their streamlined bodies glide easily through the water with the assistance of flippers and a very flexible spine. They have sensitive whiskers and hear well underwater.

Eating Habits

Sea lions love seafood! Fish, squid, clams – it’s all fair game for the California sea lion.


Sea lions can be found along the western North America coastline from Alaska all the way to Mexico in a variety of settings, from the rocky shores to man-made environments such as marinas. Although they are salt-water creatures, they have been known to live in fresh water for some periods of time.

Conservation Efforts

California sea lion populations are not considered to be threatened. While marina owners and others may view them as pests, seeing sea lions lounging in the sun by the dozens (or hundreds!) is always a big hit with tourists in places like San Francisco’s Pier 39.

Animal Facts

  • Many of the “tricks” guests may see at sea lion shows, like the show at Audubon Zoo, are actually adaptations of behaviors sea lions need to survive in the wild. Sea lions are so intelligent that the military uses them to locate mines and enemy divers.

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Quick Facts

Scientific Name

Zalophus californianus


Animalia, Chordata, Mammalia, Carnivora, Pinnipedia, Otariidae

Place of Birth

West Coast of North America


6 – 8 feet long; up to 220 lbs.


Light to dark brown


About 20 years

Conservation Status

Least Concern

Where to See

Audubon Zoo

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