Blackpool Zoo’s two newest arrivals were born at the same time an exciting species of flower mysteriously appeared behind their enclosure.
Niko and Rubi, who are male and female Californian sealions arrived on the June 2 and June 9 to first time mothers Anya and Gina.
And on each of their birthdays, the large mammal team at the East Park Drive attraction discovered an extraordinary Bee Orchid behind the Active Oceans Arena, a flower which has never been seen at Blackpool Zoo before.
Both the sealion pups are doing well and are now out and about, taking their first tentative dips in the pool under the watchful eye of their mothers and the rest of the harem.
The Bee Orchids have been protected with fencing and staff at the zoo contacted the Lancashire Wildlife Trust to ascertain how rare they are.
Alan Wright, communications officer at Lancashire Wildlife Trust, then contacted the Lancashire Environment Record Network at Lancashire County Council to record the sightings.
He said: “Bee Orchids are very noteworthy and this really is a super find.
“They are a beautiful flower and it is wonderful to hear they were discovered on the same day the two sea lions were born.”
Jude Rothwell, marketing and PR co-ordinator at Blackpool Zoo, added: “Shortly after the birth of our first sealion Niko one of our large mammal team Gary approached me to say he had seen a Bee Orchid flower behind the enclosure.
“We all went along and our gardener immediately fenced it off to protect it.
“A week later our second sealion, Rubi was born and it was then the other Bee Orchid was discovered.
“It’s just strange we’ve never seen these flowers here before and they make the births even more special.
“The sightings have now been recorded and it will be interesting to see if any more appear this year.
“The names of our two sealions are Spanish in origin and Rubi, which translates into Ruby, has been named as she was the 40th baby to be born in the year we celebrate our 40th anniversary.”
Blackpool Zoo has the largest sealion pool in the UK, which underwent a £1m redevelopment in 2010.
It is now home to nine Californian sealions.
Max, who arrived last year from Madrid, is head of the harem, which includes Lotte, Carmen, Isobelle, Gina, Anya, three year old Elmo and now Niko and Rubi.