Featured Image Credit: Sean D. Elliot/The Day
By: Kira Krall
In April 2013, a near-starved teenage northern fur seal was rescued near Sausalito, California by the Marine Mammal Center. Ziggy Star was sent to Mystic Aquarium after being diagnosed with cerebral demyelination, a neurological condition that affects her vision and makes it difficult for her to hunt. She joined 4 other northern fur seals in their Pacific Northwest exhibit as a permanent resident.
Ziggy Star worked well with trainers in her outdoor exhibit. The trainers created enrichment opportunities that engaged primarily her sense of hearing and touch. She even approaches her trainers to rub her face and body against them, a sign that she enjoys the sensory stimuli in lieu of her vision.
However, she began to come down with repeated seizures in September of this year that required a specialist’s help. The Foster Hospital for Small Animals at Tufts University took in the 100-pound seal and conducted detailed brain scans. Her post-Foster Hospital seizure treatment plan included medication, injections, and laser therapy. While these treat the symptoms, Mystic Aquarium wants to treat the cause.
Mystic Aquarium staff member Erin Gibbons stated that the Aquarium will be trying something unheard of in the seal rehabilitation world: surgery. After an extensive review of her medical history, the facility decided the benefits far outweigh the risks. Ziggy’s known from California to Connecticut as a fighting spirit, so Gibbons and other staff members involved in Ziggy’s care want to give her a fighting chance. She will be undergoing surgery at the Foster Hospital sometime in the next few weeks.
Ziggy Star’s care requires over $4,000 a month. Click here to go to Mystic Aquarium’s donation page and make a contribution.