Gray Seal

Gray Seal

[ Halichoerus grypus ]

Quick Facts

BODY LENGTH: male: 7.5 to 10 feet; female: 6.5 to 7.5 feet

male: 550 to 880 pounds; female: 220 to 550 pounds


fish, squid, and octopus

ZOO DIET: herring and capelin
DISTRIBUTION: 3 different populations: the western Atlantic population, the north-eastern or Baltic population, and the eastern Atlantic population.

rocky beaches and coastal waters in temperate and sub-arctic waters


Gray seals are members of the “true seals” or phocid group like the harbor seals. Their scientific name means “hook-nosed sea pig”. They are characterized by distinct sexual dimorphism by having males much larger than females and the males also have to longer snout “hook nose”.

Brookfield Zoo exhibits a breeding group of gray seals. Breeding season is during the months of January and February where you can often hear the grays “hooting” – a vocalization commonly heard during this season.

Newborn gray seals are born with a white lanugo or coat. The pups are born weighing ~30 to 40 lbs and are 35” to 43” inches long. They will nurse for 3 weeks where the pups will gain about 100 lbs during that time!

Brookfield Zoo manages the AZA North American Studbook for gray seals.

Meet the “Grays” at Brookfield Zoo
Within the gray seal group there are 2 males and 2 females. Minnow is the oldest at 25 years old and the breeding male is Boone at 8 years old. Both females Tasha and Lily are also 8 years old.

Get Involved

Conservation Fund of the Chicago Zoological Society