Blind sea lion at Hogle Zoo in Utah dies under anesthetic

July 10, 2013 at 2:33 PM
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SALT LAKE CITY, July 10 (UPI) -- Big Guy, a blind California sea lion who spent his last year at the Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City, died after being anesthetized for an ultrasound, officials say.

A necropsy showed what staff at the zoo suspected, that the 650-pound sea lion suffered from cancer, The Salt Lake Tribune reported Tuesday. Big Guy died Monday an hour after he was sedated at the South Valley Large Animal Clinic in South Jordan, Utah.

The sea lion was found on the California coast in 2010. He spent two years in rehab at the Fort MacArthur Marine Mammal Care Center before taking up residence in the Rocky Shores exhibit at the Hogle Zoo in the spring of 2012.

Keeper Michelle Hanenburg said Big Guy was the "undisputed boss" in spite of his blindness.

"He just had an 'I don't care' attitude," she said. "If he wanted to go where another sea lion was, he would just displace them."

Big Guy was believed to be at least 15 years old and possibly in his early 20s. The zoo still has two younger sea lions, Maverick and Rocky, and three harbor seals.

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