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On December 8th 2010, the officials at Sausalito's Marine Mammal Center received a call about a distressed sea lion beached at the city's waterfront. When the rescuers arrived, they found a 336-pound, 7-foot long mammal that was suffering from severe head trauma. Carefully, the team transported him to the center's hospital for treatment.
Veterinarians at the center confirmed what the rescuers had feared - The sea lion, who they dubbed 'Silent Knight' because of his regal demeanor, had been shot in the head by some callous human. The injured mammal that was missing several teeth had sustained severe injuries to his jaw. But worst of all, he had lost sight in both eyes.
While there was nothing the doctors could do to restore his eyesight, they were able to treat his other injuries successfully. Within a few months, the six-year old was back to his former glory, eating well and even adding a few pounds to his already large frame. Now, the mammal center had to confront a new problem - Finding Silent Knight a permanent home.
That's because there was no option of sending him back in the wild - For while mammals that are born blind instinctively know to survive, those that are used to seeing, have a hard time figuring it out and often end up, starving to death.
Therefore, they approached the zoos and aquariums around the area, to see if anybody was willing to provide Silent Knight with a permanent home. Fortunately, the officials at the San Francisco Zoo agreed to step in and build a custom-made sanctuary for the pinniped.
And, it gets better - When the North Coast Marin Mammal Center in Crescent City, heard about Silent Knight's new home, they asked if they could send Henry, another blind sea lion that had been rescued from Trinidad State Beach to join him.
In March, the two stars moved into their new home, a renovated $125,000USD sea lion exhibit filled with 85,000 gallons of water. The duo who made their first public appearance on May 6th are doing well and have been joined by yet another friend - Orphaned seal lion pup, Blackwell who was rescued from California's Monterey Bay.
Sea lion injuries from humans are not uncommon - While very few perpetrators get caught, researchers believe they are largely fishermen who get frustrated from losing fish to these hearty mammals. The officials at the Marine Mammal Center that offer rewards to try catch these ruthless people, are urging them not to harm these innocent mammals. What makes a bad situation even worse, is the fact that these resilient animals do not die from the bullet wounds - Instead, they struggle for weeks thanks to their injuries and end up dying from starvation because they cannot fend for themselves. To read more about the amazing work being done by the marine mammal centers and how you can help, go to www.marinemammalcenter.org.