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April 29, 2008
Contact: Sandra Jonker, (360) 906-6722
or Craig Bartlett, (360) 902-2259

Sea lion succumbs during health exam

OLYMPIA—A California sea lion captured yesterday for relocation from the Columbia River died today during a health examination at a Tacoma zoo.

The animal, a 1,454-pound adult male being held temporarily at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium (PDZA), failed to resume breathing after being sedated for the examination. A team that included an Oregon veterinarian, two state marine mammal biologists, and a federal animal-care expert had concluded the health exam and were attempting to bring the animal out of gas anesthesia when the death occurred.

A necropsy is being performed to determine the contributing factors in the death of the animal. Results will be announced when available in two to three weeks.

The deceased California sea lion is one of seven captured during the past week for relocation to designated zoos and aquariums. The captures are part of an effort by Washington and Oregon wildlife managers to reduce the number of California sea lions preying on protected salmon and steelhead below Bonneville Dam.

The animals are being held in temporary quarantine at PDZA for disease testing in preparation for permanent placement at designated zoological facilities around the country. PDZA staff were not involved in the health examination.