Annie Warms Hearts of Sea World Visitors

Loren

-James Clark

Annie is a 32 year old Harbor Seal that lives at Pacific Point, Sea World-San Diego’s Seal and Sea Lion Exhibit.    Annie was born in 1980 at Marine Land of the Pacific, on the Palos Verdes Peninsula coast in Los Angeles.  

Marine Land of the Pacific closed in 1987, so Sea World offered to house the animals that were losing their home.  Annie was a show seal in Marine Land of the Pacific’s educational talks, which informed people about Harbor Seals in the wild and explained what parks can do for conservation efforts. 

Generally, Harbor Seals live 30-35 years, but in an environment like Sea World, they can live up to 40-45 years.  Now that Annie is older and retired as an show animal, she lives quietly at Pacific Point.   

 Annie has cataracts, a natural occurrence that is very common for the Harbor Seals.  Their eyes are very different than human eyes, so cataract surgery is difficult and not usually successful.  But veterinarians are still learning, and constantly coming up with new developments. 

Annie’s condition is too far gone, so she is not a good candidate for cataract surgery.  But what is learned about the development of the cataracts in the older animals will help future attempts to benefit the younger animals by reducing their cataracts. 

 A young harbor seal named Iris was rescued earlier this year was only about 6-8 weeks old, and had cataracts in both eyes.  Cataract surgery was successful enough that she will be able to return back out into the wild on her own.

Click The Link to Watch Video: Annie The Harbor Seal

Three different types animals actually live at Pacific Point:  Harbor Seals like Annie; Guadalupe Fur Seals; and, common Sea Lions.  Harbor Seals are spotted, and come in different shades of either black, brown, or silver. 

Cyclops was born in Sea World, Florida.   He was brought to San Diego to be a breeding male.  Cyclops and Annie did have one pup together, but, because of Annie’s age, Sea World will not breed her again.  Silver pups are the most rare, but Annie’s pups were always black.

 Pacific Point’s Guadalupe Fur Seals are a rare and special treat to see because until the late 1940’s they were thought to be extinct .  Lance, an adult male came to Sea World under their rescue program.  He was rescued as an adult and was having seizures, which can only be controlled by epilepsy medication.

Although the goal of the program is to return the animals back into the wild, Lance could not survive on his own out in the wild because of his seizures, so Sea World provided a permanent home for him.  Lance is the only rescue animal in the enclosure.  All the others were born at a Sea World Park or at other Parks.

 Sea lions, the third species at Pacific Point, are commonly seen in the San Diego are, as are harbor seals.  Morticia is a 22 year old sea lion, who also is blind.  Sea lions usually live to be about 25 years of age, so she is also an older sea lion.  Sea World’s Pacific Point tends to be a retirement home for the older seals and sea lions.   

 Jody Westberg supervises the Mammal Department.   She likes to work with the seals and sea lions because they all have have their own unique personality.  Annie is able to recognize her name.  Annie has developed a bond with her care takers.  One of her four keepers has been with  Annie’s for her entire life.    

 Annie is a favorite among the Animal Care Specialists.  She weighs about 300 pounds, and is naturally more rotund than a sea lion, eating 5-10% of her body weight a day, about 15-30 lbs.  Although a Harbor Seal’s diet consists of Pacific Sardines, Mackerel, and Herring.  Annie tends to like the Herring.  Annie figured out that if she waves, people throw her food. 

 You can see more about these animals, on Sea World’s website, www.seaworld.org.