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Alaska SeaLife Center Mourns Stillborn Steller Sea Lion Pup


Seward, AK – May 29, 2013 – The Alaska SeaLife Center is saddened to announce that a non-viable
pup was delivered from Tasu, a thirteen-year-old Steller sea lion, around 10:00 PM on May 27. Tasu is
doing well, and appears to be showing no signs of distress after the event.
Tasu is one of two female sea lions at the Alaska SeaLife Center whose pregnancies have been closely
monitored over the last several months. Tasu’s pregnancy progressed normally, with regularly observed
fetal activity and periodic ultrasounds. On Sunday, May 26, her behavior changed, suggesting imminent
labor. Early Monday morning, her water broke and labor was evident. When progress slowed,
veterinary staff induced labor and assisted in delivering the pup. A preliminary exam of the pup
indicated that it most likely died prior to the start of active and obvious labor. A full necropsy will be
performed by an independent veterinarian to determine the cause of death.
Although scientists and veterinarians at the Center have been optimistic about a positive outcome for the
sea lion pregnancies, they have been cautious throughout the process. According to current literature on
Steller sea lions from the Eastern Stock, up to 15% of pups born in the wild do not live beyond the first
week of life. Brett Long, husbandry director at the Center also states, “Since this was her first
pregnancy, there was no history of how Tasu would progress through the process of labor and delivery.”
The Alaska SeaLife Center is a private non-profit research institution and visitor attraction, which
generates and shares scientific knowledge to promote understanding and stewardship of Alaska’s marine
ecosystems. The Alaska SeaLife Center is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and
Aquariums and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. For additional information, visit
Research described is conducted under National Marine Fisheries Service Permit No. 14334.
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