North Carolina Zoo welcomes first sea lions in nearly 2 years


ASHEBORO, N.C. – The North Carolina Zoo announced Wednesday that, for the first time in nearly two years, sea lions are on exhibit.

Diesel and Owen, two male sea lions, arrived in Asheboro in July after they were discovered stranded and malnourished off the coast of California earlier this year.

Before arriving at the zoo, the sea lions had to overcome several obstacles, the zoo said. After being stuck on land without water for a long period of time, the animals were rescued and taken to rehab centers where they were nourished back to health. After receiving medical treatment, Diesel and Owen were released back into the ocean. Unfortunately, they washed ashore again and had to be rescued and treated for more medical issues. After the second incident, both sea lions were placed in captivity where they can live without the possibility of being stranded again.

“The North Carolina Zoo is honored to be able to assist in providing a good home for Diesel and Owen. Without the hard work of many marine mammal rescue groups on the west coast, Diesel and Owen along with dozens of other sea lions would not have survived,” said Jennifer Ireland, mammal curator at the zoo.

Zoo visitors can see Diesel and Owen along with seals Ronan and Paco in the Rocky Coast exhibit.

This year has been a record setting year for the number of California sea lions being stranded, the zoo said. More than 3,300 sea lions have been stranded off the coast of California so far this year, which is nearly ten times the number of strandings there were reported over the past 10 years. Sea lions can get stranded for a number of reasons such as injury, illness, weather or the condition of the ocean.

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