PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is mourning the death of the northern elephant seal Coolio.
“Our animals are like family and today we lost a unique member,” says Dr. Barbara Baker, Pittsburgh Zoo CEO. “Coolio was an amazing animal who touched not only our lives but our visitors as well. He will be missed dearly.”
Coolio died Tuesday morning during a veterinary procedure.
The seal suffered from congenital abnormalities, blood vessel abnormalities, and likely had hypertension.
Coolio was found severely injured along the coast of California at just three months old. He was recused by the Northcoast Marine Mammal Center, nursed back to health but had damage to eyes, leaving him blind.
When the Northcoast Marine Mammal Center determined he could not be released back into the ocean, they reached out to the Pittsburgh Zoo.
“He was always eager to learn and despite his disability, he made great progress,” says Paul Moylett, Curator of Aquatic Life. “He was cautious at first but he adapted quickly. He and Ellie Mae got along very well.”
Elephant seals were nearly hunted to their extinction, with a population of close to 150,000 and 124,000 of them living off the California coast.