November 6, 2019
Saving Sea Lions and Seals
- as seen by -Kimberly Grendzinski
In May 2019, the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California sent out a call to the Association of Zoo and Aquariums facilities across the United States to help with relief from the record number of pinniped strandings that they were responding to.
The Center, located in the Marin Headlands just north of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge, oversees 600 miles of the California Coastline, more than any other rescue facility. Its two satellite rescue centers at San Luis Obispo and Monterey rescue an average 600-800 animal patients that are transported to the Center at Sausalito for care. Injuries commonly seen include shark bites, gunshot wounds, malnourishment, acid poisoning, and entanglement. The majority of their husbandry care department is run by volunteers who take one shift each week to care for species such as northern elephant seals, California sea lions, harbor seals, and Guadalupe and northern fur seals.
Prospect Park Zoo responded by offering me the opportunity to spend a week at the Center to train with their volunteer staff and aid in husbandry and medical procedures. While there, I learned how to restrain, tube feed, and aid in transporting animals on multiple releases back to the sea (above). About 180-200 animals were at the Center at any given time during my stay.
One of our resident California sea lions at PPZ, “Halftime”, was rescued by the Center in 2012, and deemed non-releasable after multiple rehabilitation attempts. Halftime eventually made her home at PPZ.
I am proud to have helped return animals back to the wild, and I am glad to know AZA zoos and aquariums are able to provide great homes for those who can no longer survive in the sea.