EL PASO — Twenty-six year old Sunny the Sea Lion passed away overnight from age-related medical issues, the El Paso Zoo said. Zoo keepers said they had been keeping an eye on him off exhibit because he was not feeling well and was undergoing treatment for his condition prior to his death.
The El Paso Zoo said Sunny was born at the El Paso Zoo on June 12, 1986 during his lifetime at the zoo, taught visitors about ocean conservation and recycling by demonstrating how to put the correct items in a recycling bin.
“We would sit with him and massage his back with the water hose, he really loved that. We are really going to miss him,” said Area Supervisor Amanda Leverett.
Keepers also ensured that Sunny was under constant expert care, keeping him comfortable at all times while trying to stimulate him to eat.
“We spend more time with the animals than our own families. The bond we build with them is very important. It’s an unbreakable bond,” said Senior Zoo Keeper Billie York.
“It is a sad day here for all staff at the zoo. Sunny was the face of the zoo- a true super star. The El Paso Zoo was blessed to have an iconic animal like Sunny. This is a great loss for us all and he will be missed dearly,” said Zoo Director Steve Marshall.
The Sea lion exhibit will remain open. Zoo officials said sea lion presentations have been cancelled today and will resume on Tuesday, Nov. 27 at their regular time. Guests will continue to see Sushi, the zoo’s 14-year-old sea lion, during daily presentations at 10:50 a.m. and 2:50 p.m.