Sea Lion Keepers Save Sea Turtle While Picking Up Trash

This week, our sea lion team went above and beyond for wildlife. For two years, this group of Houston Zoo keepers has made regular trips to the Surfside jetty, picking up trash and recyclables. The team also spends time speaking with fisherman and visitors on the jetty about the dangers that discarded monofilament fishing line poses to marine life like sea lions and sea turtles. This self-started program has included Houston Zoo staff from 14 departments and resulted in the collection of 729 pounds of trash, 529 pounds of recycling, and 114 pounds of discarded fishing line.

sea-turtle-rescueWhile working on the jetty this Wednesday, our sea lion team rescued a sea turtle that had been entangled in fishing line. Houston Zoo sea lion keeper, Heather Crane, was on the jetty and helped free the turtle. We asked Heather to share her experience and here’s what she had to say.

“On October 30th, a group of dedicated volunteers and I went to the Surfside Jetty for a scheduled sea lion monofilament team collection. As we made our way out to the end of the jetty to begin our work, we passed by a number of fishermen, surfers, and people enjoying taking in the sights. Our monofilament cart and team seemed to generate a lot of attention by the jetty-goers and we were able to share our story of why we were there to clean the jetty. Not long after, civilians jumped in and joined the efforts to collect trash and fishing line from the jetty sidewalks. It has been a few months since I have visited the jetty myself and I was so impressed by the difference in the vibe I received from the fishermen. After 2 years, I notice a definite difference in the attitudes and perspectives of the people who frequent the jetty the most. Originally, it seemed people were unsure of why we were there and what our intentions may be. But yesterday, I received an overwhelmingly wonderful and warm welcome and acts of gratitude from the jetty-goers. Several fishermen stopped to thank us as we emptied the monofilament bins placed on the jetty for recycling fishing line.

As we collected fishing line, trash, and recyclables, a civilian reported to one of our volunteers that there was a turtle that was possibly entangled. We immediately notified the sea turtle hotline (1-866-TURTLE-5). Soon, we received instruction to monitor the turtle and have someone stay with it and report any changes. From the shore, it appeared that the green sea turtle was entangled in fishing line and was struggling to free itself. As we awaited the arrival of NOAA scientists, the turtle appeared to becoming more stressed and more entangled. As it fought to get free, it only exacerbated the problem. After thoughtful deliberation and safety planning, it was decided that if this turtle was to survive, it would be absolutely necessary to enter the water and extract the turtle. NOAA never recommends or requests members of the public to enter the water to extract a turtle due to the in-water dangers that exist. When I reached the turtle, I found it to be anchored in two spots to the bottom. Fishing line wrapped around the hindflipper, the neck, and tightly around the front left flipper. We removed the loose line around the neck and hind-flippers, but awaited help from the NOAA scientists to remove the front flipper entanglement to prevent further damage of the flipper that probably resulted from an initial entanglement.

sea-turtle-rescue2

NOAA biologist, Lyndsey Howell, works to remove fishing line from sea turtle.
NOAA biologist, Lyndsey Howell, works to remove fishing line from sea turtle.

We waited for help to arrive and continued monitoring the turtle. During this time, we were able to educate onlookers about the importance of recycling fishing line and how to contact the turtle hotline to report injured turtles. It was a great teachable moment and seemed to captivate and inspire this audience the turtle invited. When NOAA scientist, Lyndsey arrived, the remaining fishing line was removed and he was taken to the sea turtle facility in Galveston for further evaluation and treatment. It was a special day and I could not be more proud of the team that collaborated to make the rescue successful. For me, this is a testament and reminder to the importance of the work we do to keep our waterways clean for animals in the wild, and it makes me proud to work for the Houston Zoo.”

sea-turtle-rescue-with-lyndsey

Great work Heather and sea lion team! We want to take a quick moment to reiterate that if you see an injured sea turtle, please immediately dial NOAA at 1-866- TURTLE-5. NOAA’s expert biologists are on-call 24/7 to respond and advise to reports of hurt or nesting sea turtles. Thanks to our friends and conservation partners at NOAA for helping this turtle get ready for another chance in the wild.



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This morning, we humanely euthanized our male, 20-year-old jaguar, Kan Balam. Due to the tremendous care provided to him by his keepers and our veterinary team, Kan Balam lived well beyond his expected lifespan. Jaguars expected lifespan in the wild is between 12-15 years.

The carnivore staff and veterinary team made the decision after his quality of life began to decline. Quality care and continuous advances in veterinary medicine extends animals’ lives longer than ever, with most felines in human care living well beyond previous generations. Because of this, all cats, including domestic house cats and jaguars, often spend a significant phase of their lives as older animals, and are at a higher risk for geriatric complications.

Read more about Kan B, and the love his keepers had for him on our blog: www.houstonzoo.org/blog/mourning-loss-geriatric-jaguar-kan-balam/
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This morning, we humanely euthanized our male, 20-year-old jaguar, Kan Balam.  Due to the tremendous care provided to him by his keepers and our veterinary team, Kan Balam lived well beyond his expected lifespan. Jaguars expected lifespan in the wild is between 12-15 years. 
 
The carnivore staff and veterinary team made the decision after his quality of life began to decline. Quality care and continuous advances in veterinary medicine extends animals’ lives longer than ever, with most felines in human care living well beyond previous generations. Because of this, all cats, including domestic house cats and jaguars, often spend a significant phase of their lives as older animals, and are at a higher risk for geriatric complications.

Read more about Kan B, and the love his keepers had for him on our blog: https://www.houstonzoo.org/blog/mourning-loss-geriatric-jaguar-kan-balam/

 

Comment on Facebook

Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur; happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr purr purr #RIP #bigbangtheory

I know he lived a lot longer due to the excellent care he got at the Zoo.

Is this the one that had the limp?

This was my daughters favorite critter at the Zoo. We always went to say hello to him before anyone else whenever we went. When she was 7 years old we sent a post out to out neighborhood on Halloween saying Paisley was asking for pocket change donations in lieu of candy for Halloween and all amounts would be donated to Kan thru the zoo. She raised over $40 in coins! I still have the letter from the zoo thanking her for her donation. He was a sweet boy and will be missed. 😔

I saw him limping about 2 weekends ago. The first time we walked by he was fine. When we walked by on the way out he was limping and moaning pretty loudly. I wondered what happened but I figured his keeper already knew or would find out shortly. Super Sad. He was always a lively one.

Sorry to hear about your loss. We also lost a jaguar(melanistic variety) at Reid Park Zoo about a year ago. Nikita was 21 years old and was euthanized due to health-related issues. Sad, but they have a GOOD life at the zoo! No predators, a steady food supply, medical attention, loving kindness from her keeper(s) and admiration by the public. Geriatric animals have unique problems and we are blessed to get to know them as long as we do.

Jaguar habitat is in the Zoo or Jungle's? ??or is only entertainments for person's? ??$$$$$$$!.Sorry animals the person's don't love you ..

Thank you Houston Zoo for taking such good care of him and all the animals! I've been going to this zoo since I was little bitty. I always enjoy it.

Dunno if the Zoo staff considered him a pet but he was certainly a family member, and because of that i offer this: RainbowBridge Author Unknown Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable. All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind. They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster. You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart. Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Aww. When interning in the carnivore dept he was one of my faves. So smart! Ashley remember when Angie was teaching him to do the moonwalk after Michael Jackson passed?

Sending love to the keepers that are broken hearted right now. And thank you for all the care you’ve given.

Beautiful jaguar ....so grateful for the Houston Zoo keepers and veterinary team that gave their time and efforts to share this awesome jaguar with us for so many years.

He was well-cared for and most of all well-loved. My heartfelt condolences to those missing Kan B as well as me. What an amazing ambassador for his kind. What a beautiful old gentleman. Thank you for loving him into old age and giving him peace.

What a great long life he lived because of his excellent care at the zoo Thoughts go out to his keepers and the entire Houston Zoo staff

Thank you for doing what was right and kind for Kan Balam even though it was hard and painful for you. That’s true love for an animal. ❤️

RIP Kan Balam. You have given the visitors so much pleasure just watching you over these years. You were taken care of by top notch professional handlers, etc.

I'm so sorry for your loss. Thanks for taking such great care of him so he was able to live a long life. My thoughts are with his keepers and all who adored him. <3

Aww I’m so sorry for the loss, I’ve seen him many times, he was absolutely gorgeous! I’m glad that you guys were able to make him comfortable, sometimes the best thing we can do is let them be at peace. Will miss this handsome guy; play hard at the Rainbow Bridge friend, day hi to my cat, Junior for me!! Much love to the HZI staff!!

Jaguars are one of my favorite and he seems like a sweet boy. I'm so sad but I'm happy he can be painless and be free now. RIP❤️

The Houston Zoo staff has lost several animals this year and I am sure each one is so hard to go through.

I am soo sorry for the loss of this handsome fella Kan Balam. May he rest in peace and run free or any pain over the rainbow bridge.. My heart and prayers go out to each and every one of the staff at the Zoo.

Katie Rose Buckley-Jones I won’t ever forget the time you asked him to bring something and he ripped off a piece of cardboard and tried to hand it to you ❤️ thank you for introducing me to him. Sending you guys many hugs

So sorry to the keeping staff for your loss i cant imagine how youre feeling :( his old age is a testimony to the amazing care he received

I will miss him. The last time I saw him he looked tired, and it appeared his foot was bothering him.

Sad to hear of this. Thanks for taking such good and compassionate care for him and the other animals.

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Social Media Guy to Sea Lion Keeper: Can you send me a pic of you working with the sea lions in this chilly weather?

Sea Lion Keeper: Sure... (sends picture next to sea lion statue)

SMG: I'm still using this.
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Social Media Guy to Sea Lion Keeper: Can you send me a pic of you working with the sea lions in this chilly weather?

Sea Lion Keeper: Sure... (sends picture next to sea lion statue)

SMG: Im still using this.

 

Comment on Facebook

Are there some zoo animals that enjoy this weather?

SMG is another reason why Houston Zoo is the best Zoo!

Happy New Year “sea lion keeper “ 💖💖

More snow for TJ and Max ❤️ lucky them!

Are we positive that’s the statue rather than it really just being that cold? 😛

That’s my best friend Sophie for ya! 😂

Brrrrr

Omg the Zoo is so awesome 😂😂😂 Alana Berry

Omg be warm sweetoe

Haha!! Good one!

Sweetie 💞

Ashley Jucker 😂

Lauren Gonzales

Mike DePope

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