Fur seals are pinnipeds. They are more related to sea lions than to seals. Just like sea lions, fur seals have external ears and large fore-flippers, which allow them to 'walk' on all fours.
Seals do not have external ears and can not ‘walk’ on their flippers. South American fur seals can be found in zoos all around the world. The animals are curious and react to both animals and humans. Fur seals are not endangered, although they have been hunted down a lot on the past for their fur. Europe has nevertheless put up a breeding program for the fur seal in order to keep the zoo population large enough and healthy.
The appearance of male fur seal differs clearly from that of female fur seals. This difference may be very big. In some sub species, the males can be five times as large as the females.
The male South American fur seal weighs around two hundred kilo’s and grows to 1,80 meters in length. Females weigh around ninety kilo’s and have a length of 1,40 meters. The males are dark grey in color, the fur of the females is a bit lighter.
Fur seals live in groups of fifteen to twenty animals. Even short after giving birth, female fur seals will mate again. Gestation period lasts for approximately a year. Quite soon after giving birth, the females leave the pups to look for food. This may last up to a week. But between these foraging periods, the young will be suckled extensively.
In the wild, the feed of the South American fur seal consists of fish, octopus and krill. In the zoos the fur seal diet consists of herring, octopus, mackerel and sometimes sprat.
Predators of the fur seal are large types of sharks, orcas and large types of sea lions.