An update from the seal pools!

It has been almost two months since we admitted the first of two gray seals for rehabilitation here at the National Aquarium. We are happy to share news that both seals have recently reached some big milestones in their rehabilitation.

When you first met Stewie, the younger of the two gray seals, he had come to us not knowing how to eat on his own, and was coughing and dehydrated. In April, our staff, along with the help of local cardiologist Dr. Steven Rosenthal at Chesapeake Veterinary Cardiology Associates, completed an echocardiogram on Stewie to rule out any possible heart conditions.

Stewie did very well during this procedure, and began vocalizing soon after it was over. It seems he just wanted food and a good swim in his pool. Stewie has gained 12 pounds while mastering the art of eating whole herring along the way!

When you first met Guinness, our second gray seal, he had traveled to us all the way from North Carolina. He was suffering from a mild case of pneumonia, an upper respiratory infection, and a jaw fracture. After much consideration and research, our veterinary staff decided that minor surgery to stabilize his lower jaw was necessary for the fracture to heal properly. The procedure was successful, and he now has a wire holding the left and right sides of his lower jaw together. The wire is much like a retainer: it runs under his tongue and the external piece has been stitched under the skin of his chin. It will be removed in six to eight weeks, once the jaw has had time to set.

Guinness recovered very well from the procedure, and continues to have a healthy appetite! He has gained 32 pounds since he first entered the rehab program. You’ll see below that he also enjoys eating ice!

Aside from medical treatments, enrichment is currently included in their daily routine. Enrichment activities with MARP animals are different from those used with our collection animals. Because they are wild animals, we limit our direct engagement with them, but have found ways to keep their innate behaviors active.

We use things such as large PVC foraging devices to encourage them to “hunt” or actively seek out food, and we also give them novel objects such as buoys and “kelp” to spark their curiosity. By encouraging these behaviors that they naturally possess, we are aiding in the further development of skills they will use in the wild when released.

 Stay tuned for more updates and pictures from the seal pools!

In addition to these two seals, we are still caring for the 11 sea turtles that came to us in December from the New England Aquarium. Caring for these animals is very costly. If you’d like to contribute to their care and feeding, you can make a donation online, or donate $5 right from your mobile phone by texting ACT to 20222.

A one-time donation of $5 will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your prepaid balance. All donations must be authorized by the account holder. All charges are billed by and payable to your mobile service provider. Service is available on most carriers. Donations are collected for the benefit of the National Aquarium by the Mobile Giving Foundation and subject to the terms found at www.hmgf.org/t. Messaging & data rates may apply. You can unsubscribe at any time by texting STOP to 20222; text HELP to 20222 for help.

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