Jan 25

California Sea Lion is SeaWorld San Diego's First Mammal Return of 2013

As I’ve said before, I love SeaWorld San Diego’s mission to return rescued and rehabilitated animals to the wild. And what’s even cooler, I actually stepped in to help our first marine mammal to be returned to the wild this year from our SeaWorld rescue truck on Jan. 11. After three months of medical rehabilitation at the SeaWorld animal care center, a 300-pound adult male California sea lion named Buck being returned to the wild was quite a sight. I’m sure the dozen or so beachgoers who looked on from various viewpoints agreed. Buck got reacquainted to the ocean off Border Field State Park Beach just south of San Diego along the California-Mexico border.

When our SeaWorld animal care team rescued Buck at Boomer Beach in La Jolla in October 2012 and brought him to the park, they first believed he had sustained a serious bite wound to his right side of his face. After an initial exam at SeaWorld’s surgical suite, which included an X-ray, the park’s veterinarians discovered Buck was shot in the face at point-blank range causing the loss of his right eye. Our animal care team, made up of animal care specialists and veterinarians, treated his wound with antibiotics and pain medication, which led to his recovery. Buck wound healed and the infection in the damaged tissue on the right side of his face is gone. On top of that, he’s gained more than 50 pounds on a diet of herring, sardines and capelin, and demonstrated sufficient eyesight to catch live fish and forage for food while in our care. Given a second chance at life, our animal care team is confident Buck will survive on his own now that he’s back in his ocean home. Take a look at his rescue, medical rehabilitation and return:

In 2012, our Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Program rescued and cared for 586 marine mammals, sea turtles, brown pelicans and other birds. To learn more about Buck and other SeaWorld animal rescue, rehabilitation and return stories visit the SeaWorld Rescue kiosk on the northwest side of Shamu Stadium the next time you visit SeaWorld San Diego.