SeaWorld staff cares for sick and injured sea lion pups

Posted: Updated:
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- A record number of baby California sea lions are beaching along the state's shoreline. The animals are showing up on San Diego beaches, dehydrated and suffering from malnutrition. Some are so thin you can see their ribs. So far this year, SeaWorld staffers have been caring for a particularly high number of sea lions.

On Thursday, we got an inside look at SeaWorld San Diego's critical care unit at its Animal Rescue Center.

As SeaWorld vet Dr. Hendrik Nollens showed us, staffers are focused on animal rescue, care and rehabilitative efforts. SeaWorld cares for and nurses rescued marine mammals to health before they are successfully returned to the ocean and given a second chance at life.

"We've brought in some animal rescuers from our other SeaWorld parks in Texas and Florida, and some of our animal caretakers throughout our operations here are helping us as well," says Dr. Nollens. "Our entire zoological team has really stepped in to help."

We asked how vets help nurse the animals back to health.

"When they first come in we give them re-hydration fluids, necessary antibiotics, provide them nourishment and veterinary care," says Dr. Nollen. "Once stable, our veterinarians give them a complete examination, treat any injuries and ensure they are nursed to health. Once an animal reaches a healthy weight and demonstrates that it's able to forage for food on its own, we return the animal to the ocean."