The goal of every rescue and rehabilitation effort is to release the stranded animal back into the wild. Most rehabilitated animals are, in fact, successfully returned to their natural environment. However, in some cases, the release of the animal could negatively affect wild populations or is unlikely to be successful due to the physical condition and behavior of the animal. For example, marine mammals that are rescued as pups can imprint on humans and become too familiar with them to have a healthy reaction to them in the wild. Also, some animals that are rescued have chronic medical conditions that require life-long veterinary case. In these cases, the animal may be classified as non-releasable by U.S. government agencies. Once deemed non-releasable, a permanent placement for the animal is found.
Mystic Aquarium is proud to provide world-class, long-term care to many non-releasable animals. From the likes of Astro, a Steller sea lion that stranded several times following multiple attempts at rescue and release, to Charlotte, a green sea turtle that suffers from ‘bubble butt’ following a boat strike, to Clara, a California sea lion rescued during an Unusual Mortality Event, many non-releasable animals now call Mystic Aquarium home.
Some of the animals that live permanently here at the Aquarium were treated in our Animal Rescue Clinic. Others came from across the country where they were rehabilitated at another institution that did not have the capability to care for them long-term. Regardless of how they got here or where they came from, once at Mystic Aquarium, they continue to receive the very best in care and enrichment, all while serving a critical need as important species ambassadors.
The animals that we have the privilege of caring for every day not only provide deep connections to our guests, helping to inspire ocean stewardship but they also provide vital information to Mystic Aquarium scientists and their colleagues who are working tirelessly toward advancement in support of conserving their wild counterparts.