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|Amputee harbor seal successfully rehabilitated and on display|
For a limited time beginning Friday, March 22, an 8-month-old, female harbor seal pup will be on display at Mystic Aquarium’s Aquatic Animal Study Center after seven months of rehabilitation and a flipper amputation. Known as Pup 49 because of her rehabilitation identification number, she was admitted to Mystic Aquarium’s Seal Rescue Clinic on July 16, 2012, after being rescued by New England Aquarium 10 days earlier.
A respiratory ailment and swollen left rear flipper were identified during her admittance examination. Despite intensive treatment for her flipper, she developed a life-threatening infection in her bone and ankle joint that continued to get worse with time.
On November 26, 2012, Mystic Aquarium’s veterinary team performed surgery to amputate Pup 49’s infected flipper. The surgery was successful, but she was deemed non-releasable by NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service because she is a weaker, less agile swimmer and requires more effort to haul out of the water compared to seals with two rear flippers.
“We are very pleased with Pup 49’s recovery,” said Mystic Aquarium Veterinarian Dr. Allison Tuttle. “While any surgery comes with risks, the infection was spreading and we knew amputation was her only chance for survival. Our animal care team has done an incredible job treating her over the last seven months and we are confident that she will have a very comfortable and healthy life.”
Mystic Aquarium has submitted a letter of intent to acquire Pup 49 for its permanent collection. If approved, she will be moved off display for training until the fall. Once training is complete, she will reside in the aquarium’s Pacific Northwest habitat. If the letter of intent is denied, Pup 49 will move to another institution that is permitted to care for rescued, non-releasable harbor seals.
Update: Mystic Aquarium has received permission to care for Pup 49 permanently.
Click here to listen to Dr. Tuttle discuss Pup 49 on WNPR.
Published March 21, 2013. Updated on April 9, 2013.
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