Popular sea lion dies at St. Louis Zoo

Aug. 8, 2009 at 2:38 PM
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ST. LOUIS, Aug. 8 (UPI) -- An 18-year-old sea lion who was star of the St. Louis Zoo's sea lion show died during a veterinary exam, a zoo official says.

Dr. Eric Miller, the zoo's vice president of zoological operations, said the death of Alex the sea lion Friday marked the fourth animal death at the tourist site this year, all of which have attracted media attention, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Saturday.

A postmortem examination was conducted on Alex's remains to determine cause of death and results were forthcoming.

In March, a tumor on the liver of the St. Louis Zoo's only polar bear prompted the animal to be euthanized.

The bear's death came after a chimpanzee and a gorilla died of an enlarged heart and accidental hanging, respectively.

Miller downplayed any connection between the four deaths, adding they did not represent an increase in the annual rate of animal deaths at the zoo.

"They are a little bit like rock stars," he told the Post-Dispatch of the media attention the deaths received. "When they die, they get noticed."

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