After an eight-year absence, a California sea lion has returned to the Los Angeles Zoo's Sea Life Cliffs exhibit, it was announced Monday.
Buddy, a blind, 10-year-old, 700-pound sea lion, arrived at the zoo on May 24 after being rescued and rehabilitated by the Marine Mammal Care Center Los Angeles.
"Buddy has definitely brought a new sense of excitement to Sea Life Cliffs," said Jennifer Kuypers, senior animal keeper at the Los Angeles Zoo.
"Being from the wild, he came to us without any trained behaviors, and as we work with him we're learning about him as an individual. Buddy is a confident, smart sea lion who is adapting well to his new environment."
Buddy was malnourished and emaciated when he was found in Manhattan Beach on July 15, 2016, and because of his blindness, cannot hunt, forage or defend himself.
"This California sea lion was deemed non-releasable due to his injuries and blindness," said Jeff Cozad, executive director of the Marine Mammal Care Center Los Angeles. "That's when the Los Angeles Zoo stepped in. They felt our patient would enhance their Sea Life Cliffs exhibit and found him to be a perfect fit. We couldn't be happier that he was placed locally where MMCC L.A. visitors and volunteers can still visit him often."
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It's the second animal rescued off the coast of Southern California that the zoo has added to Sea Life Cliffs in the last year. Ziggy, an 18-month-old female Pacific harbor seal, was brought to the zoo on Nov. 1 after being rescued and rehabilitated by the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach.