Taxidermied seal pup joins museum display

Kana, the leopard seal pup that was born and died on St Kilda Beach late last year, yesterday became a new highlight of the Otago Museum’s 150th anniversary exhibition.

Plans are also under way to gather  new scientific information gleaned from the pup and to publish this material in a scientific paper, museum assistant curator natural science Kane Fleury said.

The taxidermied leopard seal pup — the first known to have been born on the New Zealand mainland in the past 40 years — was yesterday installed as part of the Futures section of the museum’s anniversary exhibition, "est. 1868". The new display includes a touchscreen telling the pup’s story, with images collected over the past year.

 

Otago Museum assistant curator natural science Kane Fleury with Kana the taxidermied leopard seal...
Otago Museum assistant curator natural science Kane Fleury with Kana the taxidermied leopard seal pup, only the second leopard seal pup whose birth has been recorded on the New Zealand mainland. Phoot: Christine O'Connor

Kana was welcomed to be museum yesterday morning by Otakou Maori representatives. Mr Fleury said CT and MRI scans, and dental impressions — the latter from the University of Otago School of Dentistry — had earlier been obtained from Kana.

The pup is believed to be the world’s most extensively imaged seal.

Mr Fleury said the wealth of data would be of considerable interest scientifically.

Leopard seal pups were usually born in harsh, remote places in the Antarctic and "there’s not a lot known about this species", Mr Fleury said yesterday.

In this context, anything further that could be learned about the seal pup’s early growth and development was "new information", he said.

john.gibb@odt.co.nz

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