Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Como Zoo's Oldest Sea Lion Dies

The sea lion star of the Como Zoo's "Sparky Show" for two decades, Sparky V, died Monday. He was the zoo's oldest sea lion and the second-oldest sea male lion in the country. Sparky V lived 31 years, considerably longer than the average 15-to-25-year life expectancy for a sea lion. He performed in the popular "Sparky Show" from 1981 until 2001. Since then, trainers continued to work with him daily.Senior Zookeeper Allison Jungheim said "he was eager to please and incredibly patient which allowed us many opportunities we would not have had with a typical male sea lion. He would allow zookeepers to brush his teeth, put eye drops in his eyes, collect blood samples, perform physical therapy for his aging joints, x-rays, and even pull a loose tooth." In the 1990's, trainers were able to teach him to expose his belly so they could use local anesthetic instead of anesthesia during a surgery, which reduced the health risk. The Como Zoo said Sparky V will be missed by all who knew him, including the Zoo's other sea lions; Mystic, Max, CC, Chino & Ginger. CC is the current star of the Sparky Show.