A Steller sea lion in the care of Vancouver Aquarium’s marine mammal rescue centre has been euthanized.
Ukee the sea lion was found near Ucluelet on Oct. 11, suffering from a gunshot wound.
The Aquarium said that after two weeks of critical care, its veterinary staff made the tough call to humanely put the animal down.
“He wasn’t responding to treatment, and his condition had taken a significant downturn in the last two days,” said Vancouver Aquarium head veterinarian Dr. Martin Haulena.
“At this point we had to evaluate his quality of life. Although we are disappointed we couldn’t return him to full health, we are glad we could end his suffering and make his final days more comfortable.”
The Aquarium says that even in his emaciated state, Ukee was the largest animal ever to be admitted to the marine mammal rescue centre.
Steller sea lions are the largest sea lions in the world, and males of the species can grow up to 800 kilograms — about the weight of a Smart car.
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They are also classified as a “species of special concern” under the Species At Risk Act.
Ukee was the second sea lion to receive treatment from the rescue centre for a gunshot wound this year.
Back in May, the facility rescued Señor Cinco, a blind California sea lion that had been shot in the face.
-With files from Regan Hasegawa