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Sea lion mauls boy at zoo in Sydney

An 11-year-old boy is recovering after a sea lion mauled him at a popular Sydney zoo's aquarium show as horrified visitors looked on.

The boy, identified by his stepmother as Jack Lister, had been invited by zookeepers to meet the eight-year-old female sea lion during the Taronga Zoo's seal and sea lion show on Friday.

After feeding the animal, Jack mistakenly followed it off the stage, which frightened it, zoo officials said.

The sea lion bit the boy and left several puncture wounds on his stomach. Jack had abdominal surgery Friday night and was in stable condition in hospital.

Jack's stepmother, Dalitta Wright, told Sydney's The Daily Telegraph the attack was sudden.

"I can only assume he was going for the smell of the fish. Jack pulled himself away and it then lunged for his back," said Ms Wright, whose family was visiting Sydney from the north-east city of Cairns. "It all happened so quickly. ... It was quite traumatic."

Zoo officials said the sea lion had never shown aggressive behaviour before, and they were investigating the attack.

The show was scheduled to continue on Saturday, without the "encounter" part, and without the sea lion involved in the attack.

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