NEW BEDFORD (WBSM) — The Buttonwood Park Zoo is adding two new harbor seals to its seal pod, and they are thrilled to introduce the new residents to the New Bedford community.

Luna and Conway arrived in early November from the New York Aquarium in Brooklyn, New York and have already bonded with longtime zoo resident Blue.

For those who don't know, Blue was born at Buttonwood Park Zoo in 2003 to Yellow, a female Atlantic harbor seal. She passed away earlier this year, one week shy of her 40th birthday.

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Wanting to ensure companionship for Blue and support the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan, zoo leadership accepted the recommendation to bring Luna and Conway to the zoo.

Both seals were introduced to Blue and they quickly acclimated to their new home.

"There were lots of nose-to-nose breath exchanges at first and then Luna immediately sat on Blue's back – who was not bothered by it in the least," said Kristy Kaeterle, Buttonwood Park Head Zookeeper. "We knew then that this was going to go well!"

Kaeterle described Conway, who has darker coloring and more obvious white markings, as a little seal with lots of personality.

"She made herself at home immediately,' Kaeterle said. "She follows us around quite a bit and is very interested in the enrichment we offer. Luna is a little more reserved but is coming out of her shell more and more each day."

Courtesy of Buttonwood Park Zoo
Courtesy of Buttonwood Park Zoo

Conway was named after the late Dr. William Conway, an iconic conservationist who retired as the president and general director of the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Luna, born on the night of a lunar eclipse and named after Luna Park on Coney Island, is similar in appearance to Blue. She is a lighter gray with darker spots.

Buttonwood Park Zoo has cared for seals for over five decades and as a waterfront community is dedicated to connecting visitors to the importance of marine mammal conservation.

"The team is excited to welcome the new harbor seals to our pod at the Buttonwood Park Zoo," Zoo Director Gary Lunsford said. "We are grateful to have this opportunity to create new zoo families through partnerships with our accredited zoo neighbors and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums."

Courtesy of Buttonwood Park Zoo
Courtesy of Buttonwood Park Zoo

All three seals are currently visible in the seal habitat in the middle of the zoo.

The Buttonwood Park Zoo is located at 425 Hawthorn Street in New Bedford and is open from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. The last admission is at 3:15 p.m.

Ticket prices for non-New Bedford residents are $10 for adults, $6 for children 3-12.
Ticket prices for New Bedford residents are $7.50 for adults, $4.50 for children 3-12.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

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