Blog: Carlita the Croc

I need a hero!

A few months back, I wrote a couple posts talking about the sea lion crisis.  To-date, there have been over 3,000 sea lion pups that have been rescued off the coast of California.  They have been found starved and malnourished, due to sea lion moms not being able to find enough nourishment at sea.  NOAA calls this an “unusual mortality event”.  This means that while some sea lion pups dying within their first year of life is normal (hey, the wild ain’t like Disney!), we are seeing a huge spike in that number. 

Luckily for many of those sea lion pups, Brookfield Zoo sent two heroes to the rescue:  Super Mairim and Wonder Mark!

Brookfield Zoo's Animal Care Staff

I had a chance to talk to Wonder Mark and Super Mairim and hear about their gallant efforts to help rehabilitate sea lions.  Their adventures are riveting and inspiring!  This is one of several posts in which I will share their story…and their pictures!

Rescue Me
Mark and Mairim each spent approximately a week at a marine mammal rescue center called the Marine Mammal Care Center at Fort MacArthur, in San Pedro, California.  NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) in collaboration with five or six of the rescue centers in California, put out a call to zoos and aquariums for animal care professionals who might be able to assist with rescue efforts. 

Since the Brookfield Zoo team has a lot of experience directly caring for sea lions, they were put to work preparing diets (fish) for the sea lions, cleaning enclosures, and feeding.

But, there are many other important jobs that help a rescue center run smoothly…from doing laundry, to entering records, to analyzing blood samples. Not to mention, these types of centers provide rehabilitation care, they aren’t necessarily the ones to rescue the stranded pups from the beaches and shores. 

The specialized skills that Mairim and Mark have made them vital to being able to help assess the needs of incoming pups, and understand the behaviors of the pups already in the care of the center.  In addition, Mark and Mairim learned new tools and skills to help evaluate the well-being of animals at Brookfield Zoo from an animal-centric perspective, which supports the mission of CZS’s Center for Animal Welfare

Mairim describes the process a sea lion goes through in order be considered rehabilitated and then released:  “They have to gauge is this pup going to be able to eat food on its own? Is it going to be able to be competitive? They start tube feeding to get their strength up, then they go to a more competitive pen, they make sure they’re eating fish.  Then they go to the more competitive pen [where they’re] competing for that fish.  [Finally], they go to a water pen where they have to forage for their fish and dive down and get it.  So once they’ve met those levels, then they’re deemed to be released.”

Homeward Bound

Sea lion pup rescue

Although Mark and Mairim spent most of their time at the care center, they did go to help with a release of several pups, “as a reward for all the hard days.”

sea lion release
Great job Wonder Mark and Super Mairim!

Check back in a few weeks to hear more about the adventures of Mairim and Mark!

Posted: 6/18/2015 5:35:36 PM by Filed under: animal welfare, sea lion pups, sea lion rescue

Carlita the Croc

I'm Carlita the Croc, here to deliver my candid views on various topics, articles, news, and stories in conservation. For the latest news follow me on Twitter, for striking photos follow me on Instagram.


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