We recently announced the heartbreaking and unexpected loss of our eight-year-old male northern fur seal, Leu. Our deepest thanks to everyone who has shared condolences and memories with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. We hope you’ll enjoy the memorial video below.
We also wanted to provide an update on what we understand so far about the cause of Leu’s death. As we shared in our previous blog post, Seattle Aquarium animal care staff discovered Leu unresponsive in his habitat early in the morning on August 26. They quickly initiated our rescue protocol and applied CPR. Despite their best efforts, Leu couldn’t be revived.
After reviewing video footage, our Senior Veterinarian Dr. Caitlin Hadfield believes that Leu had a seizure, lasting about 20 seconds, at 5:30am on August 26. As you may remember, he was being treated for a seizure disorder that was diagnosed while he was being rehabilitated after his rescue as a pup. Although he was receiving medication and regularly monitored, the risk of seizures was still very real, just as it is for humans receiving anti-seizure medication.
Leu was not seen at the water’s surface again after 5:30am. Sadly, we think that he lost consciousness as a result of the seizure and drowned. One small comfort is that it looks like everything happened fairly quickly.
The test results so far confirm the preliminary cause of death, but we’re waiting on a lot of other results from outside laboratories. These are to double-check for other possible causes of sudden death and to try to identify some of the possible causes of a seizure disorder, although these are rarely found. The results will also tell us about some of Leu’s other health parameters, such as levels of vitamins, hormones and antibodies. However, it may be months before we get all the results back, and we wanted to share what seems the most likely diagnosis now.
While this continues to be a sad time for all of us at the Aquarium, we’ll close with a positive: Flaherty, the other northern fur seal in our care, continues to do well. Males of this species are typically solitary at this time of year but, even so, we’ve increased his enrichment to give him lots of opportunities to interact and are monitoring him closely.
We’ll continue to provide updates as we learn more about Leu’s cause of death. Thank you again to everyone who has shared their good thoughts with us. Leu is and will be very much missed.