Marine Mammal Center to release rescued sea lions


Milestone is the 10,000 sea lion to be treated at the mammal center. The milestone is a time of celebration to remember how much great work has been done at the center since 1975, but also to look ahead at the daunting task of all the work to come.

Milestone celebrated today by cooperating with the Marine Mammal staff as they guided him into the last confinement he will hopefully ever have to experiment.

"The veterinarian received their blood work back, and all is well," said spokesman Jim Oswald. "The bacterial infection has cleared up and these animals are good to go and hopefully have a productive life back out in the ocean."

The story of Milestone and buddy Zodiac Girl -- who is actually a boy -- begins at Santa Cruz harbor where they were found listless, suffering from a bacterial infection that could have killed them.

"It's a testament to how long we've been rescuing marine animals up and down 600 miles of California coastline since 1975, and it's really a testament to the dedication of 800 volunteers and 45 staff members over the years," Oswald said.

Oswald is referring to folks like the mother-daughter volunteer team of Lynnellen Miles and Karisa Tang, both of whom cared for Milestone. Tang is studying to become a veterinarian at UC Davis with a specialty in sea mammals.

"My main goal is to work for a non-profit and to work for conservation and research, and possibly the government," Tang said. "All because of the things I learned here with my buddy Milestone."

"Helping with the care and the animals, in their environment, kind of makes up for the mistakes we're making out in the world," said Miles.

That's a sentiment echoed in the 15 sculpture exhibit at the Mammal Center called "Washed Ashore." Each piece is made from trash gathered from all over the world that washed ashore in Oregon. It's just some of what humans contribute to the long list of pollutants impacting sea creatures.

"Everything that we do to the environment not only affects the ocean and marine mammals, but at the end of the day can come back and affect us as well," said Oswald.

Both animals were scheduled to be released back into the ocean late Thursday afternoon.

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