Meet EMMY! Louisville Zoo announces harbor seal name and health update (Media Release)

ZOO CONTACT: Kyle Shepherd
502-238-5331 (Media Cell 502-744-5639)

Part of Zoo Babies presented by Norton Children’s

Meet Emmy! The Louisville Zoo asked fans to help name its female harbor seal pup — and the people have voted “Emmy” as the winner. Emmy was one of three names that also included “Grammy” and “Nobel.” Keepers proposed the award-style names to align with mother, Tonie, and father, Oscar.

The Zoo welcomed Emmy to the world on Friday, April 29, at 1:33 a.m. She shares a birthday with her mother.

Since Tonie is a first-time mom, the Zoo is taking extra precautions to prevent any disruption of the bonding period with her pup. Tonie and Emmy will remain off exhibit while the two bond and Emmy undergoes specialized care. The pup was born with a low birth weight and was not nursing or gaining weight as expected. Zoo keeper and veterinarian staff have been working intensely to support the pup with extra feedings and fluid support. They have also been in contact with marine mammal experts on her care. Emmy is still small for her age but is slowly starting to gain weight.

“In nature, a percentage of these seal pups don’t survive due to starvation, infections, and predation”, said Senior Staff Veterinarian Dr. Zoli Gyimesi.  “However, in the Zoo setting, we are able to closely monitor, intervene and assist the pup as needed, giving Emmy the best chance for survival.”

Emmy’s health and welfare are the top priorities and may require moving the pup and mom to specialized areas of the large Glacier Run facility not networked for live camera feeds. For now, guests can still follow the journey of Tonie and Emmy live on the Zoo’s seal cam at Any changes to the seal cam will be noted there.

For a little pup, Emmy has a big personality and is quite inspiring to the Zoo staff. Stay tuned for more pupdates as things progress.

This birth coincides with the launch of the Louisville Zoo’s new Zoo Babies program presented by Norton Children’s. Zoo Babies will spotlight Tonie and Emmy, the new zebra filly (name to be determined), an impending giraffe birth, and more.  Zoo Babies reminds us all that every animal birth is important and an opportunity to “better the bond between people and our planet.” To learn more about the program, visit


Harbor seals are the most common marine mammals along the coasts (east and west) in the United States. Like all marine mammals, they are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Adult harbor seals weigh up to 285 lbs. and measure up to 6 feet in length, with males being slightly larger than females. Seals in Alaska and the Pacific Ocean are also larger than those found in the Atlantic Ocean. The IUCN (International Union Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species lists harbor seals under the status of Least Concern, with an estimated 315,000 mature seals in the coastal region. Disturbance and intrusion from humans are a threat to harbor seals.


About the Louisville Zoo

Since 2011, under Mayor Fischer’s administration, the Louisville Zoo celebrated its 50th anniversary, opened nine new exhibits and attractions, and won national awards for Glacier Run and School at the Zoo. Considered Kentucky’s most popular not-for-profit paid attraction, the Zoo welcomed nearly 9 million guests in the last decade. In 2021, the Zoo was voted “Best Place to Take Kids in Summer” by LEO Weekly, “Best Kid-Friendly Attraction” by Kentucky Living Magazine, and Boo at the Zoo made the Top 10 Halloween Festivals list by Community Access Memberships, deep-discount days, the Future Healers Got Zoo Buddies partnership and the accessible playground are among prime efforts to make the Louisville Zoo even safer, more engaging and more inclusive. Among the Louisville Zoo’s most successful conservation programs, the black-footed ferret breeding effort has produced 1,100 kits and repatriated more than 800 of these most highly endangered American mammals to the wild.

The Louisville Zoo, a non-profit organization and state Zoo of Kentucky, is dedicated to bettering the bond between people and our planet by providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for visitors, and leadership in scientific research and conservation education. The Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

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