LOS ANGELES — It costs $100 a day to feed Big Guy, a 750-pound, blind sea lion that has been living at Southern California’s Marine Mammal Care Center for 15 months.
That isn’t the main reason he has to leave though. The center is a hospital, not a hotel, and they’ve done all they can for him except find him a new home. If the search doesn’t succeed soon, he will have to be euthanized.
Big Guy was found on the beach in Santa Monica on Feb. 6, 2010, with wounded eyes and cuts on his mouth. No one knows if he was in a fight with another animal or attacked by a human.
Care Center veterinarian Lauren Palmer said he was gentle and she thought she could find a zoo or aquarium to take him. She’s been looking for a year.
He weighed about 450 pounds then and has put on weight, center spokeswoman Jill Romano said.
The center, located in San Pedro, about 25 miles south of downtown Los Angeles, has 70 animals. Big Guy has been there the longest and eats the most, Romano said.
He can’t see to find food, so returning him to the ocean is not an option, she explained.
The center is headed into its busiest season and the National Marine Fisheries Service hasn’t given Big Guy a definite eviction date yet.
So for now, he’s living in a pool with five sick female sea lions. If Palmer can find someone to take him, it would have to be approved by the Fisheries Service, which sets the guidelines for rehabilitation facilities in the National Marine Mammals Stranding Network.
Big Guy is an adult, probably 5 years old, so conceivably he needs a home for 15 to 25 years, Romano said. He gets in and out of the pool on command and is used to being hand fed, she said, so it would be easy for a zoo to care for him.
Until somebody takes him, Romano said the non-profit will continue to rely on donations to feed the Big Guy.