There was a little bit of California in Ireland today – and not just because of the sunshine.
Yes, Dublin Zoo's adorable Californian sea lions moved into their new home: a stunning deep saltwater habitat just perfect for the marine mammals.
And visitors to the attraction will be given a great shot of all the action too: an underground viewing chamber allows you to see the sea lions swimming underwater.
The colony at the Zoo currently consists of three females, Cassie, aged seven, Florence, six, and nine-year-old Seanna, as well as one male, Nico, who is three. It is envisaged that the colony will grow to approximately eight animals over the next few years.
The animal is found on the west coast of North America – from the US down to Mexico. Although females weigh-in at 100kg, males can grow to a hefty 350kg.
President Michael D Higgins, a fellow Phoenix Park resident, was on-hand to officially launch the exhibit this morning. He was accompanied by his wife, Sabina.
Dublin Zoo director Leo Oosterweghel also said: “Every detail of this wonderful saltwater habitat has been considered carefully with the needs of the sea lions in mind and always inspired by their natural habitat.
"This new home should encourage them to continue breeding and to encourage their natural behaviours giving visitors an amazing insight into sea lion behaviour."
For the last four years Dublin Zoo, which runs on a not-for-profit basis, has attracted more than a million annually a year making it one of Ireland’s most popular visitor attractions.