In a heart-warming act of animal charity, a New Zealand South Island city, Dunedin, has closed one of its coastal roads to allow a mother sea lion to care for her newborn.
The New Zealand sea lion, Hiriwa, recently chose Chisholm Links golf course as a safe place to birth and raise her pup. With this unusual choice for a nursery, the sea lion mom regularly needs to cross a major road for a quick snack in the ocean between caring for her fifth pup.
To protect the mother from encountering vehicles on her feeding expeditions, Dunedin City Council has closed the road for a month, giving Hiriwa safe passage from the golf course to the ocean and back.
“It is heart-warming and inspiring when you hear stories of communities pulling together to protect their local wildlife, especially such a critical species as the New Zealand sea lion,” says David Barritt of Network for Animals (NFA).
Listed in New Zealand as ‘nationally critical’, New Zealand sea lions are one of the rarest sea lion species in the world. There are only about 10,000 animals remaining, and the number of breeding females has dropped significantly over the past 20 years.
New Zealand sea lion breeding season occurs over the summer months, with pupping from early December to mid-January.