Sea lion rescued after shotgun blast to head

December 10, 2010 11:26:04 AM PST
Shotgun pellets are lodged in the head of a wounded sea lion at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito. Right now veterinarians are working to save his life. Doctors are worried about the sea lion's health and finding whomever shot him.

The sea lion is obviously suffering, but getting some of the best medical help possible right now. Workers from the Marine Mammal Center rescued him soon after some pedestrians reported seeing the injured animal Wednesday night, on a beach at the south end of Sausalito.

The seven foot sea lion, named Silent Knight, has been wounded by a shotgun blast to the head and is suffering grave injuries. The 336 pound male has lost his right eye, a few teeth and his left eye is swollen shut from inflammation around the face. X-rays taken when he was sedated Thursday show six pieces of shot and fragments lodged in his head in various locations, from his nose to his eye and near his brain. Veterinarians are concerned that it could do more harm than good to remove the pellets. So for now, the plan is leave them where they're lodged and see how he heals with medications.

"Our biggest concerns are complications from this. Some of them are very close to his brain, and if swelling from that or infection from that actually gets into the brain, that would be a life threatening condition and very likely could be fatal," said Dr. Jim Van Bonn of the Marine Mammal Center.

Friday morning, Marine Mammal Center workers were using wooden boards to corner the sea lion and get close to him to administer shots of anti-inflammatory and pain medications. He's also getting antibiotics to hopefully keep off any infection. The center has reported the shooting to federal wildlife officials, so they can investigate who shot this sea lion and why.

The center said gunshot wounds to marine mammals unfortunately happen too often. Last year they treated 19 shot animals, mostly sea lions. This year Silent Knight is the ninth. Caretakers have named him Silent Knight in honor of the holiday season and because they think he has a regal composure, like a knight.


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