Sea lion found shot undergoes more tests

January 13, 2011 9:35:23 AM PST
Tests done on a sea lion found shot in the head at a Sausalito beach last month showed that the animal is continuing to recover.

Silent Knight, a roughly 6-year-old male adult sea lion, was found the evening of Dec. 8 at Swede's Beach in Sausalito suffering from the gunshot wound, center spokesman Jim Oswald said.

Initial tests showed the animal was completely blind and that the shooting had damaged bones in his head, Oswald said.

Silent Knight was sedated this morning and veterinarians at the Sausalito-based center took X-ray images that showed his head wounds are "healing nicely," Oswald said.

"Basically, they wanted to see if there were any complications" from the wounds, "but it turns out those are healing well," he said. "The doctors were pleased with what they saw."

The sea lion is also responding well to antibiotics, and is beginning to gain weight again after losing about 30 pounds in the first couple weeks after the shooting, Oswald said.

But because Silent Knight is blind, he is not suitable for re-entry to the wild, and the center, along with the National Marine Fisheries Service, is trying to find a zoo or aquarium that can take him in.

Under guidelines set by the fisheries service, the center has six months to determine a diagnosis for an animal and rehabilitate it for release into the wild or to a zoo or aquarium that can offer it a permanent home.

If that cannot be accomplished in the time frame, which can possibly be extended at the request of the center, the animal could potentially be euthanized, center officials said.

Oswald said the center "is not in a hurry to release him anywhere.

Our priority is to provide the medical care...that'll help extend Silent Knight's life longer."

The person who shot the sea lion has not been identified. The Humane Society of the United States has offered a reward of up to $2,500 for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case.

The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration is the lead investigative agency in the case. Anyone with information is asked to call the NOAA 24-hour hotline at (800) 853-1964 or Special Agent Dan Torquemada at (707) 575-6072.