The harbor (or harbour) seal (Phoca vitulina), also known as the common seal, is a true seal found along temperate and Arctic marine coastlines of the Northern Hemisphere. The most widely distributed of pinniped (walruses, eared seals, and true seals), they are found in coastal waters of the northern Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the Baltic and North Seas.
Harbor seals are brown, tan, or gray, with distinctive V-shaped nostrils. An adult can attain a length of 1.85 meters (6.1 ft) and a mass of 132 kilograms (290 lb). Females outlive males (30–35 years versus 20–25 years). Harbor seals stick to familiar resting spots or haulout sites, generally rocky areas (although ice, sand and mud may also be used) where they are protected from adverse weather conditions and predation, near a foraging area. Males may fight over mates underwater and on land. Females bear a single pup, which they care for alone. Pups are able to swim and dive within hours of birth, developing quickly on their mothers' fat-rich milk. Blubber under their skins helps to maintain body temperature.
Their global population is 5–6 million, but subspecies in certain habitats are threatened. Once a common practice, sealing is now illegal in many nations within the animal's range.
The North Carolina Zoological Park is located in Asheboro in Randolph County, North Carolina in the Uwharrie Mountains near the geographic center of the state, approximately 75 miles (121 km) west of Raleigh, NC, United States. At over 2,000 acres (810 ha), it is the largest walk-through zoo in the world, and one of only two state-owned zoos in the United States. The NC Zoo has over 1100 animals from more than 250 species primarily representing Africa and North America. The zoo is open 364 days a year and receives more than 700,000 visitors annually.