March 17, 2011
March 16, 2011, Long Beach, CA—The Aquarium of the Pacific is mourning the loss of one of its most beloved animals, Miller the California sea lion. Miller was the fifth oldest male sea lion in any zoological institution and had recently “retired” to the Aquarium’s behind-the-scenes area for marine mammals.
Miller was born in the wild in 1981 and was orphaned before he was old enough to survive on his own. He was rescued from a beach in San Diego by a marine mammal rehabilitation facility and deemed a non-candidate for release. He was then adopted and trained for a career as a performing sea lion at Southern California amusement parks. The park he called home in 1998 was getting ready to close down its marine mammal show when the Aquarium was just opening. At eighteen years of age, Miller came to live at the Aquarium in September 1998. Because he was so well-trained, Miller was the perfect candidate to participate in the Aquarium’s daily seal and sea lion shows and for visitors to meet during up-close animal encounters. He celebrated his twenty-ninth birthday in July 2009, an event that was reported live by a local television news crew during a special presentation.
Veterinary and husbandry staff determined it was time for Miller to go behind the scenes for health and safety reasons last year, but visitors still had the opportunity to see him on behind-the-scenes tours.
Miller died of natural causes, having reached the age of thirty. In the wild, sea lions often live between fifteen and seventeen years, while sea lions in captivity can reach up to thirty years in age. “Miller has been healthy over the years, which is why he lived such a long life for a sea lion,” Aquarium Veterinarian Dr. Lance Adams says. “Husbandry staff did their best to keep him comfortable as he went through natural aging processes.”
Miller endeared himself to thousands of visitors to the Aquarium and the many staff members and volunteers who worked with him during his years here. He will be missed by many.