Updated: Three seals die while being moved to the Saint Louis Zoo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated: Three seals die while being moved to the Saint Louis Zoo

Jun 13, 2012

Updated 10:34 a.m. June 13, 2012 with announcement of third seal death.

The Saint Louis Zoo has announced the death of a third seal (the one which was left at the Indianapolis Zoo for observation and treatment). The seal, Cri Cri, was 19 years old. 

A necropsy will be performed by the College of Veterinary Medicine at Purdue University to try to find the cause of death of Cri Cri. Necropsies were performed for the other two seals who died by the Saint Louis Zoo's veterinary pathologist.

Results from all of the necropsies could take several weeks, the Zoo says.

Original story posted 6:57 p.m. June 10, 2012:

Saint Louis Zoo officials announced Sunday that two seals died on their way to the zoo from a theme park in London, Ontario. 

Both seals were in good condition when they passed through U.S. Customs, U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Fish and Wildlife checkpoints at around noon on Friday, June 8.   The animals were checked again two hours later and were in good condition.  

But at a separate checkpoint one hour and 45 minutes later  one seal was dead and another showed signs of distress and died while being treated at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo.  

The zoo’s Curator of Mammals, Steve Bircher, was with the seals.  

“I’ve worked at the zoo here for over 30 years.  I’ve done many of these kinds of animal transports over the years, and I have to say this has been one of the most difficult things I’ve experienced here at the zoo,” Bircher says. “Mainly because we didn’t expect it, and it’s been very difficult.”

Officials have started an investigation into what caused the deaths.

“There are many tissue samples that are collected and it takes time to evaluate those samples by our pathologists before we can make a determination on the cause of deaths,” Bircher says.

A third seal began to show similar symptoms and had to be left at the Indianapolis Zoo for observation and treatment.

A fourth seal did make it to the zoo and is in 30-day quarantine, which is standard practice for all new arrivals. 

The seals were being moved to St. Louis to join 11 sea lions that are part of the Sea Lion Sound exhibit, which is scheduled to open on June 30. 

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