Seal saved from beach dies in zoo

A SEAL which washed up near-death on Warrnambool’s main beach as a pup in 2003 and who went on to become a star attraction at the Melbourne Zoo has died.

Gordo the seal being rescued from a Warrnambool beach in 2003.

Gordo the seal being rescued from a Warrnambool beach in 2003.

Gordo, as he came to be known, suffered a cardiac arrest while recovering from an anaesthetic procedure this week, zoo head vet Dr Michael Lynch said.

The 11-year-old subantarctic fur seal was having problems with his kidneys and vets were investigating whether he had a degenerative renal condition. Dr Lynch said it was possible that condition contributed to the arrest. 

Gordo was found emaciated and dehydrated on the main beach at Warrnambool in August 2003, with wildlife rescuers telling The Standard at the time he wouldn’t have survived without being caught and cared for.

The seal was then sent to Melbourne Zoo, but Warrnambool wildlife volunteer Lorraine O’Brien had told The Standard there was no guarantee the seal would survive the trip. As a yearling not adjusting well to life away from his mother, Gordo was not suitable for re-release and was kept in the zoo’s care.

Wild Sea keeper Mark Keenan said Gordo was good natured and hundreds of thousands of zoo visitors witnessed his acrobatic skills in daily shows.

Sightings of sub-Antarctic fur seals in Australia are extremely rare, with only seven sightings in Victoria between 1970 and 1995.

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