Columbus Zoo Adventure Cove: Sea Lions, Harbor Seals, and More!

Columbus Zoo Adventure Cove is a state-of-the-art aquatic attraction that will transport you into the mesmerizing world of sea lions, harbor seals, sting rays and other marine life and land animals. It opened on July 10th, 2020, making it one of the newest areas within the zoo. You will find it, just to your left as you enter the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium main entrance.

Adventure Cove’s pinnacle feature is the massive sea lion and harbor seal exhibit. Here, there are several observation spots to view the massive swim tanks, both above and below the water, but the highlight of the exhibit is the awe-inspiring underwater tunnel, where you will be surrounded by playful sea lions and harbor seals and their entertaining antics.

Parts of Adventure Cove were closed off during my visit. It was March and it was too cold for some of the exhibits. I hope to update this page when Summer comes and more exhibits are open. The seal and sea lions were on display and pictures below are from my visit.

As you walk through the tunnel, harbor seals and sea lions will swim above and around you, allowing you to get within a couple feet of these amazing creature

The area also includes a section known as Stingray Bay, where you can touch a stingray up close and learn more about these interesting animals who are known as elasmobranchs which are a class of animals that have boneless skeletons made of cartilage .

Jack Hanna’s Animal Encounters village also provides an up close indoor-outdoor habitat where you can see more animals like the Linne’s Two-Toed Sloth. Here you can catch trainers and zoo staff doing demonstrations, feedings, and other presentations showing off zoo favorites.

Photo: My own. Should you want to use it, feel free to but please link back to this page.

Key zoo animals found in the Adventure Cove habitat

There are many others not listed, but here are the some of the highlights.

Harbor Seals

Harbor seals, scientifically known as Phoca vitulina, are a fascinating species of marine mammals that can be found in the coastal waters of the Northern Hemisphere. These seals are members of the Phocidae family, which includes both true seals and earless seals.

Adult harbor seals typically measure around 5 to 6 feet in length and weigh between 220 and 375 pounds, with males being slightly larger than females. Their distinctive coat, which ranges from gray to brown, is adorned with unique patterns of spots and rings, allowing individuals to camouflage effectively with their surroundings.

Harbor seals inhabit a wide range of coastal environments, including rocky shores, sandy beaches, estuaries, and even ice floes in colder regions. They are distributed across both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, from the Arctic to the temperate regions.

Harbor seals are particularly adaptable and have been known to thrive in urban environments as well, often spotted in harbors and bays close to human activity.

As generalist feeders, harbor seals have a diverse diet consisting of various fish species, such as herring, cod, and salmon, as well as invertebrates like squid and crustaceans. They are known for their exceptional diving capabilities, often diving to depths of up to 500 meters (1640 feet) in search of food. (source:

Harbor seals are also quite social animals, congregating in groups called pods or herds for resting and thermoregulation.

California Sea Lions

California sea lions are amazing marine animals that live along the coast of the Pacific Ocean, from Mexico all the way up to Canada. They are known for their playful behavior and loud, barking sounds. These sea lions have a brownish coat, and their bodies are built for swimming in the ocean. Adult males are bigger than females, and they can weigh over 800 pounds!

California sea lions are great swimmers and can dive deep into the ocean to catch their favorite food, like fish and squid. When they’re not in the water, they like to rest on sandy beaches or rocky areas, where they gather in groups called herds or rafts.

These animals are smart and curious, which is why they are often seen in aquarium shows or trained to perform tricks. California sea lions are not just fun to watch, but they also help us learn more about the ocean and the animals that live in it.


Stingrays are flat, interesting sea creatures that live in oceans and seas all around the world. They have a unique shape, kind of like a flat pancake with wings. Their body is made to glide through the water, close to the sandy bottom. Stingrays can be found in warm, shallow waters, and they like to hide under the sand to stay safe from other animals.

These cool animals have a long, whip-like tail that has a sharp, pointy stinger on the end. They use this stinger to protect themselves from danger. Stingrays mostly eat small fish, clams, and shrimp, which they find by using their excellent sense of smell. Even though they have a stinger, stingrays are usually very gentle and will only use it if they feel threatened.

Linnes Two-toed sloth

Linne’s two-toed sloths are fascinating animals that live in the rainforests of South and Central America. They have a unique appearance, with long arms, short legs, and curved claws.

As their name suggests, these sloths have two toes on their front feet, which help them hang from tree branches. They have a thick, brownish-green fur coat that can sometimes look green because of the tiny plants called algae that grow on it.

These amazing creatures are known for being very slow movers. They spend most of their lives hanging upside down in trees and only come down to the ground about once a week. Sloths are herbivores, which means they mostly eat plants like leaves, twigs, and fruit. Because they move so slowly, they don’t need a lot of energy from their food, and they can sleep for up to 15 hours a day!

Photo By Columbus Zoo

Read more about visiting the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium here: Columbus Zoo: An Afternoon Adventure At One Of America’s Best Zoos