Update on Barney the harbor seal—your well wishes worked!

If you subscribe to our blog or follow us on social media, you probably know that our beloved (and quite elderly!) Barney underwent a procedure on November 17 to diagnose potential age-related health issues. The procedure, performed with Barney under general anesthesia, went well and the team was able to perform all the desired tests. Based on results from those tests, Barney’s medication was modified and we can happily say he’s been doing great! Great for a 34-year-old harbor seal (roughly equivalent to a 95-year-old human), that is.

Just as cataracts are common in elderly humans, Barney has them as well. His care team observed chronic but stable changes in his left eye and have agreed that he’s not a good candidate to treat this surgically. Fortunately, he’s doing well with medical treatment.

Barney has also had intermittent issues with swallowing, poor appetite, and low energy (again, similar to what is often the case with elderly humans). The procedure on November 17 helped his care team to largely rule out all of the likely reasons for these issues—but the specific cause is still unknown; this lack of final diagnosis is not uncommon in zoological medicine.

The good news is that, according to Senior Veterinarian Dr. Caitlin Hadfield, Barney has been very responsive to his medications and his appetite and energy are back to normal. And, adds Dr. Hadfield, “Because Barney has been trained to participate in his own health care, we’re able to continue to do diagnostic imaging with his cooperation to try to gain a better understanding of the issues we observed earlier.”

Barney’s procedure was the very definition of a team effort. Dr. Hadfield and all the members of Barney’s care team sincerely thank Dr. Bailey, Dr. Taniguchi ,and Parks Medical Endoscopy for providing their expertise and equipment during Barney’s procedure—as well as the Aquarium staff and volunteers who pitched in to help it all go smoothly.

It’s now business as usual for Barney, Q and Hogan in the harbor seal exhibit—come say hello next time you’re at the Aquarium! We’ll be sure to keep you updated with any new developments here on our blog as well as on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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