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    Text of Aquarium Release On Death Of Three Of Its Sea Lions

    (July 2, 2006) -- Below is the text of an email, dated July 1 on the letterhead of the Aquarium of the Pacific under the heading "From the Office of the President and CEO," apparently sent to Aquarium supporters, regarding the death of three of its sea lions.

    [begin text]


    The Aquarium of the Pacific and it staff is deeply saddened and shocked to announce the loss of three of our sea lions: Roxy and Kona and her pup.  The death of Roxy and Kona and her pup are unrelated, but occurred within 24 hours and have been extremely devastating for our staff.  All of these animals will be deeply missed by our staff, members, and community.

    Roxy's death resulted from an adverse reaction to anesthesia during a critical medical procedure.  Friday morning staff discovered that Roxy suffered a prolapsed uterus (uterus pushed out through the vaginal opening by the contractions of birth) after delivering a stillborn pup on Thursday evening. Upon discovery of the prolapsed uterus immediate preparations were underway by staff for our Veterinarian Dr. Lance Adams to attempt to restore the uterus to its proper position. 

    Around 4:15 p.m. on Friday anesthetic gas was administered to Roxy in order to begin the procedure. She was successfully anesthetized and was continually monitored by the staff for a normal breathing rate and responsiveness.  During this time Dr. Adams, successfully restored the uterus to its proper position.  At approximately 5:00 p.m. the anesthetic gas was discontinued to allow Roxy to reawaken.  After a few minutes it became clear that she was not waking up from the anesthesia.   When her heart stopped, Dr. Adams immediately began life support measures that included CPR, administration of pure oxygen, and various drugs aimed at restarting the heart.  This continued for approximately 20 minutes before it was determined that she had died.

    Using anesthesia with any marine mammal involves some risks because of their unique physiology. In this case it was necessary for us to use anesthesia in order to perform this critical-to-life procedure. Sadly, she had an adverse reaction that caused heart failure. Further examinations are underway to provide possible additional information regarding her death.

    Because female sea lions in the same group often become pregnant at the same time and another female sea lion, Kona, recently gave birth, Roxy had been taken to a behind-the-scenes area so she could be carefully monitored. She began showing signs of contractions in the middle of last week.  On Thursday, she gave birth to a stillborn pup, which is unfortunately common for first-time sea lion mothers.  Despite the difficult birth, Roxy was doing well.  She suffered the prolapsed uterus the following day.

    We are all deeply saddened by her death as well as the birth of the stillborn pup. Roxy was loved by staff for her playfulness and strong will. She has truly become a part of the Aquarium family and will be greatly missed by our staff, members, and the community.  Even with state-of-the-art medicine and technology, pregnancy and birth in seal lions can pose serious health risks.

    Having not yet recovered from this tragedy, staff found Kona and her pup dead today (Saturday) at 2:00 p.m.  Their deaths occurred sometime between 1:00 and 2:00 p.m. today.  At approximately 1:00 p.m., staff checked on them, and they both appeared and behaved normally.  At 2:00 p.m., staff found them motionless and non-responsive.  Dr. Adams examined them at approximately 2:30 p.m. and confirmed that the two had died.  At this time, we do not know the cause of death. A post mortem is being conducted at this moment to help shed light on the cause of death for both animals. Unfortunately, we may not have any more information for at least seven days, after test results come in.  Even then, we may not be able to determine the cause of death with certainty, but we are doing everything in our power to determine the cause and to do it as quickly as possible.

    After giving birth on Memorial Day weekend and spending two weeks in a special area next to the exhibit, Kona and her pup were placed in a special behind-the-scenes nursery in order for them to bond and allow the pup time to learn to swim.  Up until their deaths, they both appeared healthy and active.   In light of the recent loss of Roxy and her stillborn pup, the deaths Kona and pup are shocking and tragic for all of us.  To lose so many animals, including our new pup, in such a short time is devastating.

    We will keep members informed when more information becomes available.  We appreciate the support and well wishes from our members during this difficult time.


    Jerry R. Schubel
    President and CEO
    Aquarium of the Pacific

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