Starting on March 22, this 8-month-old female Harbor Seal pup will be seen by the public at Mystic Aquarium’s Aquatic Animal Study Center for a limited time, after seven months of rehabilitation and a flipper amputation. "She has a really inquisitive and interested personality and she is very interactive with the environment around her," said Mystic Aquarium veterinarian Allison Tuttle, who supervises the pup's treatment and care.
Known as Pup 49 because of her rehab ID number, she was admitted to Mystic Aquarium’s Seal Rescue Clinic on July 16, 2012, after being rescued by the New England Aquarium 10 days earlier. Having been attacked by an older seal, she was terribly weak when found, with wounds all over her body. She was approximately one to two months old at the time, and diagnosed with a respiratory ailment and a swollen left rear flipper. Despite intensive treatment for the flipper, the little pup developed a life-threatening infection in her bone and ankle joint that continued to get worse with time.
On November 26, 2012, Mystic Aquarium’s veterinary team performed surgery to amputate Pup 49’s infected flipper. The surgery was successful, but she was deemed non-releasable by NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service because she is a weaker, less agile swimmer and requires more effort to haul out of the water compared to seals with two rear flippers.
Read more on this pup's story after the fold:
“We are very pleased with Pup 49’s recovery,” said Mystic Aquarium Veterinarian Dr. Allison Tuttle. “While any surgery comes with risks, the infection was spreading and we knew amputation was her only chance for survival. Our animal care team has done an incredible job treating her over the last seven months and we are confident that she will have a very comfortable and healthy life.”
Mystic Aquarium has submitted a letter of intent to acquire Pup 49 for its permanent collection. If approved, she will be moved off display for training until the fall. Once training is complete, she will reside in the aquarium’s Pacific Northwest habitat. If the letter of intent is denied, Pup 49 will move to another institution that is permitted to care for rescued, non-releasable harbor seals.