A sea lion at a Utah zoo is on the mend after barfing up a toddler’s sock, prompting officials to warn visitors to be more careful with their personal belongings.
According to Utah’s Hogle Zoo, Diego the sea lion became ill on Sunday to the point where the large mammal had “lost interest in training and had no interest in treats.”
It took about a day for zoo staff to figure out what was the matter with Diego. It finally became clear when the aquatic creature vomited a lone sock.
“Our beautiful male sea lion, Diego, puked up a toddler’s sock Monday morning,” the zoo said on social media. “We are extremely relieved he was able to get the sock out and is back out swimming in Rocky Shores, harassing Maverick.”
The zoo shared a photo of the sock, showing the size of the article of clothing that appeared to have fish bones attached to it.
The zoo warned of the dangers animals face when ingesting foreign objects and asked visitors to be more careful.
“Please keep very careful track of your belongings near animals’ enclosures. Watch those little toddler socks, gloves, flip-flops, phones etc.” the zoo said. “And please, if you do drop something, please tell someone! Do not feel too embarrassed to let us know. We can retrieve the item if we know about it.”
Officials were commended for being open about the dangers animals face at the zoo when it comes to visitors not alerting staff about dropping items into enclosures.
“I don’t love that he swallowed a sock that his keepers didn’t know about,” Tia Knighton commented on Facebook. “But I love the open honesty about the situation. And that you’re trying to educate the public about it.”
“Thank you for posting. I hadn’t thought about the issue, but I do have a toddler, and she does like to throw stuff,” Chuck Baer said. “If she does this, I’ll know what to do!”
Others shared stories of their kids dropping stuff into enclosures.
“My toddler threw her shoe into the giraffe enclosure years ago, thankfully it landed in the keeper area,” Heather Newman Haslam wrote. “I was SO embarrassed to find an employee but they were so kind to me and retrieved it quickly. I’m glad Diego is ok!!”
“We dropped a hat in the giraffe area last year I felt so bad but it was retrieved quickly and no one shamed us, it happens and I would never not say anything,” Tausha Cary-Davidson chimed in. “I would feel awful if I was the cause of injury to an animal.”