Posts Tagged 'animal care center'

Animal Rescue Update: Goodbye Sodapop, Hello Eyegore!

Animal Rescue Update

The 2012-2013 seal season has been a busy one for our Animal Rescue team!

Last Thursday, we successfully released Sodapop, a male harbor seal that was treated for a severe respiratory infection. An animal release is always a cause for celebration for our department – we spend countless hours caring for animals in rehabilitation, and to be rewarded by seeing an animal return to its natural environment is a joyous event. Despite the rainy weather, we had a large group join us on the beach at Assateague State Park to say farewell to Sodapop!

harbor seal on the beach

At his release, we can only assume Sodapop had the following thought: So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish!

After Sodapop was released, our team had just one seal in rehabilitation – Ponyboy, a male grey seal being treated for a wound to the left front flipper. Ponyboy has been doing great – his wound is healing well, and the veterinarians recently discontinued his antibiotics. He has been enjoying enrichment several times a day, but his favorite enrichment is fishcicles! Fishcicles are jumbo frozen treats with lots of yummy fish, and they are a refreshing way for the seals to enjoy their food. Fishcicles encourage natural foraging behaviors, and stimulate their minds and tactile senses – they are usually a big hit! If Ponyboy continues to improve, we hope to be able to release him in the near future!

grey seal

Ponyboy was not alone at our Seal Rehabilitation Facility for long. The day after Sodapop’s release, we admitted a juvenile grey seal from the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Team, named Eyegore the Maniac. Eyegore was initially admitted for rehabilitation on April 18th for a respiratory infection and severe infection of the left eye. After being stabilized at the Virginia Aquarium for about a month, he was transferred to the National Aquarium for long-term rehabilitation.

grey seal eyegore

Eyegore has a feisty demeanor, which is a good trait for a wild seal. His respiratory and eye infection have responded well to antibiotics, though he does have permanent scarring of the left cornea that affects his vision. Eyegore’s health is improving, despite his permanent visual impairment, and he actively enjoys lounging in his rehabilitation pool and interacting with enrichment..

Stay tuned for updates on the progress of these animals, including release details!

Blog-Header-JennDittmar

Animal Rescue Update: We’re Currently Treating a Second Seal

Animal Rescue Update

Staff with the National Aquarium Animal Rescue have been busy caring for two juvenile seals in rehabilitation.

The first seal, a harbor seal admitted on February 15, has been doing very well. While recovering from pneumonia and an upper respiratory infection, the seal broke out with sealpox lesions. Sealpox is a viral infection similar to human chicken pox. Staff monitored the seal closely during this time to make sure he received the proper nutrition, hydration, and rest that was needed. We’re happy to report that the sealpox lesions have subsided, and the seal has been quite active lately – an indication he’s likely feeling better.

seal

The second seal , a grey seal pup, was admitted on April 1 (Easter) and has recently shown a lot of progress. The grey seal was admitted for a significant injury to the left front flipper that affects a digit joint.

grey seal

Grey seal pups present a unique challenge to rehabilitation staff, because they often require to be ‘taught’ to eat solid food. Grey seal mom’s nurse their young for about three weeks, then usually abandon the pup. The pup is left to learn to eat, navigate, and be social all on their own. This little grey was no exception and challenged our staff – we were patient through the learning process and supplemented his diet with fish smoothies while he learned.

seal

I’m happy to say, that this little guy has come a long way and is eating his full diet on his own – a big accomplishment for a little grey! Veterinarians are treating the flipper injury and monitoring its progress closely.

Stay tuned for more updates on these guys! 

Blog-Header-JennDittmar

Animal Updates – March 1

Between our Baltimore and Washington, DC, venues, more than 17,500 animals representing 900 species call the National Aquarium home. There are constant changes, additions, and more going on behind the scenes that our guests may not notice during their visit. We want to share these fun updates with our community so we’re bringing them to you in our weekly Animal Update posts!

Check our blog every Friday to find out what’s going on… here’s what’s new this week!

Batfish surgery

An orbiculate batfish currently being cared for at our Animal Care Center (ACC) is recovering nicely after being surgecially treated for a lump on his side.

The batfish is one of the many animals we have currently undergoing quarantine before being placed in our Blacktip Reef exhibit! As soon as staff noticed the small mass, they began doing a variety of diagnostic tests, including aspirations , cultures and ultrasounds to try and determine the cause.

Once the mass began to grow, the decision was made by animal health staff to remove it surgically.

batfish surgery

We’re happy to report that the fish did well throughout surgery and a 1.5 x 1.5 cm lump was identified and removed. The cyst was sent to our partners at John’s Hopkins to further investigate the cause. The batfish is being treated with pain medication and antibiotics and is has “recovered swimmingly!” After being housed alone for immediate recovery, he is now back with other fish and his scar is barely noticeable!

As you can imagine, surgery on such a fragile and small animal takes patience and precision! We’re lucky to have such a dedicated and talented team to provide the best care for our animals!

We’ll be sure to keep you updated on the condition of our batfish and be sure to tune in next week for another update! 

Visit Charm City Run THIS Saturday and Support MARP!

Need some new kicks to wear to our next conservation event? What about new running accessories so you can hit the city streets and running trails in style?

Visit our friends at Charm City Run in Locust Point THIS Saturday, February 16! Charm City Run is donating 10 percent of all proceeds from that day to our Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP).

Deirdre feeding MARP turtles
Deirdre Weadock of Charm City Run visited our Animal Care Center last week to help care for our current turtle patients. This was not Deirdre’s first visit to the Animal Care Center; from 2005 to 2011, she was a senior dolphin trainer at the Aquarium!

Since 1991, MARP has rescued, treated, and released nearly 100 animals to their natural habitats, including seals, sea turtles, dolphins, a harbor porpoise, a pygmy sperm whale, and a manatee.

At National Aquarium, sea turtles are the most common patients in our Animal Care Center. All sea turtles in U.S. waters are listed as endangered species, and often face dangers such as cold stunning and injury from boat propellers. The turtles currently being rehabilitated by staff came from New England and are being treated for cold-stunning and pneumonia.

green sea turtle

2012 was a historic year for sea turtle rescue along the Northeast coast. Typically, the New England Aquarium rescues 25 to 60 sea turtles per year; however, last year that number grew to more than 200 rescued turtles. After receiving such a sudden influx in just one month, the New England Aquarium reached out to our rescue program for help. We are currently rehabilitating 8 of these sea turtles, with full recovery expected to take 5 to 6 months or longer. Day-to-day care includes multiple feedings daily, medical treatments, veterinarian procedures and enrichment exercises!

With a historic influx of patients to the Animal Care Center this year, we are so grateful to Charm City Run for supporting MARP in their effort to save these injured sea turtles.

Make sure to stop by Charm City Run in Locust Point on Saturday for all of your running footwear, apparel, and accessories…and to support a great cause! 

A new rehab area for rescued sea turtles

Greetings from the Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP)! Usually around this time of year we would be sharing stories of rescued animals that are in our care here at the National Aquarium; however, with the mild winter that we had here in the Mid-Atlantic region, staff have not received many calls about animals in need of our help. That does not mean that the staff has been on an extended vacation, though…

In preparation for the “turtle season,” the Aquarium’s MARP staff and Animal Care Center (ACC) staff have been working alongside contractors to get the new sea turtle rehabilitation area up and running. That’s right — the NEW sea turtle rehab area is now complete and ready for its first patient, and MARP is ready to answer those calls for help!

The Animal Care Center is an off-site facility where animals clearing quarantine are held before entering an exhibit, and where wild animals in need of rehabilitation stay. Making sure that the quarantine protocols were followed during this transition has been the biggest step, as there are shared spaces that all staff use, including the kitchen areas. Several precautions were adjusted or added so that all animals remain safe and healthy during their stay at the ACC.

With the help of Andrew Pulver, Darius Hunter, and the ACC staff, the transition has been a huge success, with all equipment in place and the new pool systems up and running smoothly! Currently, the MARP team is keeping a close eye on the water temperatures, to make sure that the new pools are going to be in the proper temperature range for the turtles that we normally take in this time of year. The temperature range that we typically keep for rehabilitation purposes is between 77° and 86°F, and we also keep at least one pool at a lower temperature to mimic the current ocean temperatures. These fluctuations are monitored continually throughout the off-season, even when we don’t have turtles in rehab.

So while there are still a few minor details to work out as far as equipment is concerned, staff members are eager to find and develop new enrichment ideas for the new pools’ large front windows.

Until then, just remember that if you are out on the water this spring and summer, keep your eye out for marine wildlife in our area. It is around this time that we see different animals migrating through our local waters, as the Chesapeake Bay acts as a thoroughfare for several ocean species. Animals that the MARP team usually sees include sea turtles and seals. While sea turtles will generally stay in the water, they do surface for breaths of air, so be careful if out on a boat. Boat strikes are an unfortunately common cause of marine animal injury.

As for seals, this time of year brings them warm sunshine as they pass along the Eastern Shore, so basking areas such as local boat ramps/docks, small islands off the coast, and even public beaches make good haul-out locations for these animals. The MARP team just asks that you keep your distance, as they can be aggressive if approached, and please call the Aquarium’s stranding hotline at 410-373-0083 to let us know if you see one in our area! Healthy or not, we would love to know when these animals are starting to venture along the Maryland coastline.


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