Kekeno pup
Image: DOC

Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


DOC is asking people not to feed New Zealand fur seals/kekeno after reports of a pup being fed by the public in Napier.

Date:  17 August 2018

For the past three weeks this kekeno has been hand-fed and as a result has begun hanging around the Inner Harbour in Ahuriri where people fish. 

Ahuriri-Napier Operations Manager (Acting) Moana Smith-Dunlop says this poses a problem to both the kekeno and the people feeding it. 

"Although it can be tempting to feed him, this human interaction is detrimental to his development. This pup is starting to rely on humans to feed it, which will be a problem when it is older because it won’t be able to fend for itself. 

“Dead fish and high-energy human food are not treats - they disrupt the kekeno’s natural diet and behaviour,” she says. 

“It will also start to go after the bait on fishers’ lines when people are not around to feed it, and could cause it to get fish hooks stuck in its mouth.” 

Moana Smith-Dunlop says people should also remember that kekeno are wild animals and they will defend themselves if they feel threatened. People should stay at least 20 metres away because they can inflict serious injuries to dogs or people. 

“Kekeno will bite if they feel threatened, and the bacteria in their mouth can cause quite nasty infections,” she says. 

Until the end of September there is expected to be an influx of kekeno pups and juveniles appearing on land as they begin to wean from their mothers. 

DOC takes a 'hands off' approach to kekeno because they are capable, resilient and if given time and space they usually find their way home. 

However, DOC rangers will intervene if the kekeno is in notably poor condition, immediate danger, tangled in debris, causing disruption or being harassed by people or dogs. 

It is an offence under the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978 to disturb, harass, harm, injure or kill a seal. A dog owner whose dog attacks a seal could face prosecution. 

If people are worried about a seal being in danger, injured or harassed by people or dogs they should call the emergency hotline 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).


For media queries contact:


Back to top