SeaWorld Suspends Sea Lion and Otter Show to Respond to High Number of Sea Lion Pup Rescues

SeaWorld® San Diego continues to see a dramatic increase in the number of California sea lions stranding on local beaches in 2015. Due to the extremely high number of rescues, the marine park has suspended its popular sea lion and otter show “Sea Lions LIVE” for at least two weeks to allow animal caretakers from that facility to assist with the park’s rescue team. Since Jan. 1, SeaWorld has rescued more than 450 sea lions, an exceptionally high number for such a short period of time and earlier in the season than normal. Other marine mammal facilities along the coast of California are seeing the same trend with more than 1,600 strandings on California beaches so far this year.  It's not known with certainty why the region is seeing a larger number of strandings, however, these sea lion pups are unable to find sufficient food sources.  

The animals, 8 to 9 months old, are found emaciated, malnourished, dehydrated and extremely lethargic. Some are also suffering from hypothermia, hypoglycemia, pneumonia, and other illnesses that vulnerable animals can be susceptible to when their immune systems become compromised. SeaWorld’s animal care specialists and veterinarians are treating the animals with hydration, nutrition and, when necessary, antibiotics.

Zoological team members from the park’s other animal exhibits are assisting in the effort and animal care staff from SeaWorld Orlando, SeaWorld San Antonio, Discovery Cove and Busch Gardens Tampa have also flown out to San Diego to augment the rescue team. SeaWorld is also constructing two new temporary holding pools for rescued sea lions.

The goal of SeaWorld’s rescue program is rescue, rehabilitate and return animals to the wild. Animals are first stabilized and then provided nourishment and veterinary care until they are strong, of healthy weight and able to forage for themselves. Each animal is treated for the appropriate length of time and care according to its needs, but the average time an animal stays in rehabilitative care is four to six weeks.

Over its 50-year history, SeaWorld San Diego has rescued more than 15,000 animals, including marine mammals, seabirds and turtles. If a member of the public sees an animal that appears to be ill, injured or abandoned, they should not try to touch the animal, but rather alert local authorities or call SeaWorld’s rescue hotline at (800) 541-SEAL.

Click to download high res versions of the images shown above: