Ask Peter Gros

posted: 05/15/12
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Leopard Seal Expert

So, what is a leopard seal and what makes it such a dangerous predator? Ask Peter Gros, wildlife expert and former host of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom.

Peter Gros is special adviser to Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom on Animal Planet and a former co-host of the original series. He has more than 22 years of field experience with captive wildlife. In his former position as director of land animals and vice president at Marine World/Africa USA, he established breeding programs for 377 endangered animals.

Our Q&A is over, but from Dec. 7 to Dec. 13 we will post Peter Gros's expert answers to your questions:

chowdrseal: What kind of animals does the leopard seal fall prey to, if any?

Peter Gros: The only predator preying on the leopard seal is the killer whale.

corwinfan4life: What makes this animal such a dangerous killer?

Peter Gros: The leopard seal will eat almost anything and are notorious for being manipulative, aggressive hunters. They have unusually large jaws with long and sharply pointed canine teeth, in contrast to many other seals.

anycreature: What are the leopard seal's closest relatives?

Peter Gros: The leopard seal is a member of the True Seal Family; generally seals without external ears. Relatives include the harp seal, the harbor seal and the Baykal seal. The Baykal seal is found only in the world's largest, deepest freshwater lake, Siberia's Lake Baykal (which is much too cold of a lake to scuba-dive in without wearing a dry suit!)

i-love-animalplanet: How many babies can leopard seals have at a time, and where are their young born?

Peter Gros: The leopard seal is able to give birth between the ages of two and seven, and carries her young for nine months, producing just one pup a year during a period between November and January. They do not give birth in the water like other species, but instead hurl themselves onto ice when it's time to deliver. Baby seals often weigh an excessive 70 lbs and double in size within their first three months of life.

i-love-animalplanet: How long can leopard seals stay underwater?

Peter Gros: Leopard seals can stay underwater for twenty to thirty minutes.

horakhti73: How frequently do leopard seals kill other seals, and how do they go about it?

Peter Gros: Leopard seals are opportunistic predators and since there is such an abundance of penguins, that is their primary diet. However, they will occasionally kill other seals, especially crab eater seals. They kill through a series of powerful bites with their unusually large jaw and canine teeth.

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