According to zoo officials, preliminary findings suggest 'Astro,' the four-year-old sea lion living at the Zoo's McGovern Mammal Marina, died from severe gastroenteritis, however a final cause of death won't be known for a few weeks.
"This is a devastating loss for everyone at the Zoo" said Sea Lion Curator Beth Schaefer. "Since his arrival in 2009 Astro had endeared himself to everyone who met him, from Zoo guests to the sea lion keepers. Every Zoo employee held a special place in their hearts for Astro."
Astro was 11 months old when he came to the Houston Zoo back in 2009 from the Long Marine Laboratory in Santa Cruz. Prior to that, he had been found stranded three times off the California coast. Two of those times, he was released back out into the wild, but the third time, marine mammal rescue personnel determined it was necessary to keep him in a controlled environment.
"Astro had a rough beginning, but he found a loving and caring home at the Zoo and quickly won everyone over with his friendly and spirited personality," said Schaefer.
Schaefer says the two female California sea lions, Cali and Kamia, are both in good health.