Max the sea lion, a staple at the Oregon Coast Aquarium, was recently treated at Oregon State University’s veterinary hospital.
The 30-year-old sea lion is considered geriatric, as most sea lions live to be about 20 in the wild, but they have longer life spans in captivity. Director of veterinary services Dr. Dan Lewer noticed that Max, who normally engages in exercises and vocalizations for visitors to observe, hadn’t been as active; Max was experiencing breathing trouble, inactivity, weight loss and his voice was raspy.
Max’s visit to OSU provided a rare learning opportunity for the veterinary staff, residents, and students, as the last sea lion patient visited years ago. The staff mostly works with dogs, cats, cows and horses. With no sea lion experts on hand, the vets and students researched the cardiac diseases and treatment for the particular species.
After undergoing a CT scan, blood work, fecal tests, and an echocardiogram, the team at OSU determined that Max is suffering from congestive heart failure – his heart is only performing at about 50 percent capacity.
OSU will work with the aquarium to plan a course of treatment for Max who is suffering from blood pressure issues and fluid in his lungs. With medication and care, Max will continue to be a main attraction at the aquarium, just a bit more laid back than his usual self.