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SeaWorld celebrates 40,000 animal rescues

Rescuers at SeaWorld San Diego say it’s rewarding work to nurse wild animals back to health.

SAN DIEGO — SeaWorld has been providing critical and specialized care to rescued animals for over a half-century. Now they’ve surpassed a major milestone with 40,000 animals rescued over the decades. 

“You can tell he’s dehydrated just by the look of his eyes,” said rescue supervisor Jenny Smith regarding a one year-old elephant seal receiving fluids intravenously. It was rescued from La Jolla Cove after stranding itself on the beach. 

“First and foremost, we want to rehydrate him, so he will get fluids orally. He will get fluids subcutaneously. We want to help him in that sense,” said Smith.  “He also gets a fish formula that is given to him to help with his nutrition.”

He’ll be here recovering and growing stronger for about two months before they’ll return him to the ocean.

“We do return animals to where we know there is a proper food source for the species,” said Smith. “They get to go for a boat ride and they get returned.”

Rescuers at SeaWorld San Diego say it’s rewarding work to nurse wild animals back to health.

“They go from just kind of sitting here, not interested in fish, not feeling very well to, ‘I’m hungry. Give me that fish. I can eat that fish on my own,’” said Smith. “And that’s really a great turning point for each animal.”

The team rescued a harbor seal that was only a day or two old when they found it stranded between rocks north of the Scripps Pier.

“We provided 24-hour care,” said Smith. “We had to feed it every three hours.  Eventually we had to show it how to eat whole fish on its own just like mom would.”

One of the brown pelicans receiving treatment was rescued in Oceanside with fishing line wrapped tightly around his wing and leg.

“There was a hook in the leg right about his ankle and everything was swollen and cold and he was not able to stand and now just 24 hours after removing all of those things and giving him some pain relief, he’s standing, he’s strong,” said Kim Peterson, rescue supervisor at SeaWorld San Diego.  “And all we need to do is fatten him up.”

A young white-faced ibis is also receiving care in their bird facility after falling from its nest.

“He came in bruised all over its body, the top of his head, his whole back, his legs, his wings were actually oozing blood,” said Peterson. “Now just a couple of days after feeding and warmth, those wounds are healing very rapidly.”

From sea lions to sea birds, rescuers at SeaWorld San Diego are making a difference one rescued animal at a time.

“To watch the progression of a tiny baby grow up and be returned to the wild, or to have an animal that comes in that is ill or injured and to be able to restore its health and then return it back to the wild to fly away and live out its life,” said Peterson.  “It’s an amazing, extremely fulfilling role that I play here.”

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