Bella the rescued Australian Fur Seal resting by the water.

Birthday Bella rides a Wave of Summer Fun at Melbourne Zoo

04 December 2019

One of Melbourne Zoo's favourite youngsters has shown off her impressive surfing skills to celebrate her birthday. The Zoo celebrated Bella the seal's first birthday by turning on the waves in the seal pool.

The older seals joined Bella in swimming and surfing through the waves, much to the delight of onlookers.

Melbourne Zoo Wild Sea keeper Beth Geraldene said Bella has won the hearts of everyone at the Zoo since she was rescued by the Zoo's Marine Response Unit earlier this year.

"She is definitely a favourite with visitors," Ms Geraldene said. "She is very little and cute still. She is also a favourite with the staff here as well. So she is certainly melting some hearts.

"She loves to interact with the other seals. We see her being a little bit of a bossy-pants sometimes, so she certainly holds her own against the older girls."

Bella was rescued by Melbourne's Zoo's Marine Response Unit after being attacked by a dog on a beach near Queenscliff while separated from her mother.

The young Australian Fur Seal was rehabilitated at Melbourne Zoo's veterinary facility, but couldn't be released back into the ocean because she was too young to survive on her own.

"It is always our aim to send them back out, but because of the injuries, because of her age, she just couldn’t could go back out without her mother,” Ms Geraldene said. “So she has stayed with us, but she is kicking many goals and is now an amazing ambassador for her species."

Ms Geraldene says Bella has bonded with the other seals and is growing in size and confidence.

"She loves to engage in training sessions and learn new behaviours. She loves playing in the waves, playing with the hose, all those fun enrichment activities as well.”

Ms Geraldene said the birthday celebrations for Bella coincide with the 10th anniversary of the opening of the Zoo's Wild Sea precinct.

"Staff who have been working here for pretty much that whole time are really excited to be celebrating that 10-year milestone. It is a really great area to work in, we have some amazing animals and it is a perfect time in summer to be coming down and seeing the waves and seeing the bubbles and seeing the animals that live in our wonderful oceans."

Melbourne Zoo is celebrating Australia's amazing marine environments this summer with a focus on marine conservation.

Special Zoo activities over summer include bubble and water play for animals and visitors, a stunning sculpture exhibition featuring artworks made from plastic debris, and a thought-provoking National Geographic photography exhibition exploring the theme of 'Planet or Plastic?'.