FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
RESCUED BLIND SEA LION FINDS NEW HOME AT MOODY GARDENS AQUARIUM
Squirt the Adolescent Sea Lion Survives Near Death Experience before Reaching Galveston Island
Galveston Island, TX (Dec. 13, 2010) — There’s something special about the way Moody Gardens’ new California sea lion gracefully swims through her newly acquired aquarium home – she does it without being able to see a thing.
Being blind, however, was the least of Squirt’s worries before arriving on exhibit this month at the Moody Gardens Aquarium Pyramid in Galveston. A year ago, the adolescent sea lion was a rescue animal found stranded and nearly starved off the shore of Santa Barbara, Calif. After Squirt was nursed to health by volunteers at the Santa Barbara Marine Mammal Center, doctors determined she was permanently blind. Moody Gardens adopted Squirt in October.
“The assumption is that because Squirt is blind, she separated from her mother and washed up on the beach,” said Diane Olsen, assistant curator at Moody Gardens. “She’s got a pretty remarkable story. She was so thin when she was rescued, she didn’t even look like a sea lion.
“This animal should have died, but thanks to the dedication of the volunteers in Santa Barbara, she‘s perfectly healthy other than being blind. It’s now our challenge to keep her happy and healthy the rest of her life, and I know we will.”
Squirt went on exhibit at Moody Gardens this month after several weeks of preparation and training. Now one-and-a-half years old and a little more than 80 pounds, Squirt is playfully adjusting to her new environment, Olsen said. She is also getting used to her new exhibit mate, Dino – a male sea lion who is more than 10 times her size at 812 pounds.
“She’s had a great time exploring the exhibit,” Olsen said about Squirt. “She’s definitely got personality. She’s very curious and loves to play with toys. She’s very much a young playful sea lion.”
Video footage of Squirt as well as an interview with Moody Gardens Senior Biologist Maggie Reynolds can be downloaded for media use here: http://www.galveston.com/b-roll_moodygardens.
The public can see Squirt at the Moody Gardens Aquarium Pyramid, which is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information call 800-582-4673 or visit www.moodygardens.org.
Moody Gardens is a public non-profit educational destination utilizing nature in the advancement of rehabilitation, conservation, recreation and research.