Birmingham Zoo Sea Lions Gio and Farley moving to New England later this spring

Birmingham Zoo
(Birmingham Zoo Facebook page)

The Birmingham Zoo has decided to rehome its two beloved California sea lions Farley and Giovanni (Gio) later this spring.

The sea lion’s new residence will be the New England Aquarium in Boston, Massachusetts.

Why the Move?

The reason for the move?

The Birmingham Zoos California sea lion habitat, which was built in 1974, is no longer in keeping with zoological best practices and is in need of significant repairs, the Zoo stated in an April 17 news release

Renovations to this habitat are not feasible and the only option would be to build a new facility which cannot happen soon enough to address the current issues, said Hollie Colahan, Birmingham Zoo Deputy Director.

Once the sea lions depart to New England, the Zoos Sea Lion Habitat will be permanently closed. Presently, there are no plans to build a new sea lion habitat.

Farley and Gio

Born in 2008, Farley and Gio joined the Birmingham Zoo family through a recommendation by the California Sea Lion Species Survival Plan (SSP) after their rescue by the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California in 2009. 

The Birmingham Zoo participates with zoos and aquariums around the world in SSP programs.

Whats Next

Birmingham Zoo
Birmingham Zoo. (Pat Byington/ Bham Now)

While we are very sad to see them go, we are excited about this great opportunity for them, said Mollye Nardi, Birmingham Zoos General Curator.

Farley and Gio will be joining three female California sea lions at the New England Aquarium: 12-year-olds Sierra and Zoey and 10-year-old Tipper.

Their new home will be bigger and better. 

Sea lions are social animals and live in colonies in the wild. The AZA-accredited New England Aquarium has a larger habitat and their own resident sea lions, the  Birmingham Zoo described the sea lions’ new setting up north.

Farley and Gio are at the perfect age to socialize with our resident sea lions, and we feel that this will not only be very enriching for all five of the animals but also align with our goal of providing the highest level of animal welfare for the animals in our care, said Kristen Van Oss, Curator of Pinnipeds and Penguins at the New England Aquarium.

Birmingham Zoo staff and the New England Aquarium are working closely to ensure a smooth and successful transition. 

In the coming weeks, the Birmingham Zoo will announce its plans to give the Birmingham community a chance to say goodbye to Gio and Farley.

Watch this space for that special event. 

What are your fondest memories of Gio and Farley? Tell us on social media by tagging us at @bhamnow

Pat Byington
Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.

Articles: 2254