uShaka Sea World staff celebrate Gimili’s birthday


Cape fur seal Gimli was born at uShaka Sea World’s previous home on the Durban Beachfront on 21 November 1986 to Siggi and Benji. She turned 29 on Saturday 21 November 2015. 

Lead animal behaviourist Hayley Tennant was introduced to Gimli when she was still at school volunteering during the holidays and over weekends. It was love at first sight for Hayley and the two have shared a close relationship lasting 26 years.

Gimli and Hayley celebrate a 26-year bond on Gimli's birthday

As the average life expectancy for a Cape fur seal (Arctocephalus pusillus) is only 19 years, it is understandable that Hayley is proud and grateful to be celebrating Gimli’s 29th. Named after a character in JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings as she was initially thought to be a male, Gimli is a particularly beautiful seal with extraordinarily long whiskers and a charming personality. 

She retired from public presentations a few years ago and currently spends her time with her companion Moya and devoted caregivers. Although she is frail, Gimli remains strong-willed and loves playing with the water hose and swimming through divers’ bubbles. Her favourite food is squid and as a tribute to her the trainers made ice lollies with her favourite food mixed with gelatine.

It is estimated that there is a worldwide population of 1.5-million Cape fur seals that are equally at home on land and sea, with few natural predators. Adult seals fall prey to sharks and killer whales while young pups occasionally fall prey to jackals and brown hyenas. Undoubtedly the seals' greatest threat is people.

Join the uShaka Sea World team in celebrating Gimli’s birthday and spreading her birthday wish: that discarded fishing line and plastic bags are desposited in bins and not on the beach where they pose a threat to marine life.

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