OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma City Zoo has welcomed a new member to their family – Isla the sea lion pup!
Isla is 11 months old and arrived at the zoo in mid-May after being rescued from the Santa Barbara Harbor in Santa Barbara, California, by Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute (CIMWI).
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Zoo officials say Isla was found malnourished and emaciated at the Santa Barbara Harbor in November 2018. Concerned citizens called the CIMWI Rescue Hotline and volunteers with the nonprofit rescued the pup. She was then taken to the facility to be rehabilitated to return her back into the wild.
After 90 days in rehabilitation, she was deemed releasable by the institute’s veterinarian and was released 25 miles offshore, near Santa Cruz Island, around other wild sea lions.
However, nine days later, Isla returned to the harbor and walked into the lobby of the Alma Mar Motel.
Officials say during her nine days back in the wild, she had lost nine pounds and was brought back to the center.
She was under observation for weeks and CIMWI staff say Isla was more habituated to humans than she was to other marine mammals in the institute’s care and could not forage for herself in the wild.
Staff deemed her as non-releasable because caretakers said she would not thrive in the wild.
It was determined by the National Marine Fisheries that the Oklahoma City Zoo would become Isla’s new home.
When she arrived at the Oklahoma City Zoo she was introduced to her new habitat, where she will stay throughout her 30-day quarantine before interacting with the zoo’s other six California sea lions.
After she clears her quarantine period, Isla will begin meeting her new sea lion family.