May 30, 2020
- as seen by -Jennifer Rant
This is six-year-old Townsend (named after the first director of the New York Aquarium, Charles Haskins Townsend). He is a rescued sea lion (Zalophus californianus) from California. Townsend was found alone on a beach when he was just a pup, suffering from pneumonia and malnutrition. He was rescued, rehabilitated, and released. Unfortunately, Townsend stranded again.
The second stranding resulted in Townsend becoming a local celebrity in San Francisco. He wandered across a busy street in the Marina District and hid underneath a car.
Once again, Townsend was rescued. At this point, he was deemed non-releasable by the federal government and veterinary experts at The Marine Mammal Center. On average, fewer than 1 percent of rehabilitated animals treated at the Center re-strand each year. In these cases, they reach out to zoos and aquariums to see if any can find room for the animal.
Lucky for us, Townsend found his forever home within the Wildlife Conservation Society at the New York Aquarium. Townsend, along with his sea lion buddies, educate about half a million people each year on the harmful effects that plastic has on the environment and this species in the ocean.
He has grown a lot since the day he was found underneath that car. Townsend now weighs 365 pounds. Townsend is one of the most energetic California sea lions that I have ever worked with. He is curious and extremely playful. Working with Townsend and earning his trust has truly been a career highlight for me.
Thank you, Townsend, for putting a smile on my face every single way. It is an honor to work with you.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks to all the staff that care for the animals and keep WCS’s parks running. We are grateful for the work they do.