Arrival Of Rescued Seals and Sea Lions

Examination of each patient begins before removal from the transport carrier. A quick evaluation is made to assess the physical and mental status of the animal as well as the size of the animal. This information helps the team prepare to admit the animal safely. At the same time, rescue personnel provide a history of the rescue and the condition of the animal as observed at the rescue site.

Team members evaluate the animal to determine the species, gender, age, length, weight, physical and mental condition of the animal. The physical examination in combination with a blood and fecal analysis provide the basic health parameters that help determine the initial course of treatment. Additional diagnostic evaluations such as radiographs may be performed at a later time or under anesthesia, once the animal is physiologically stable. Dehydration and malnutrition are common problems.

Veterinary staff creates an identification number for each patient and then puts the number on a patient by:

  • Shaving a temporary mark in the animal’s fur (known as a Farrell number)
  • Tagging
  • Using a grease pencil marker to apply a color code.

Sometimes we use all three methods. MMCC LA does not name its patients. Instead, they are referred to by the unique number assigned during intake.

Medical Treatment of Seals and Sea Lions

Each animal receives a medical record where the daily status of the animal is recorded, including nutrition intake and notable changes in behavior. This information is important when assessing how animals are housed within the facility and when they are ready to move to the next step in the rehabilitation process. Initially our interaction with the animal may be labor intensive including physical restraint for feedings and medications. But as the animal regains normal health and strength the team is hands-off, and the animal interacts with people less and less. At no point are members of the general public allowed to interact with the animals.

Providing a clean and stress-reduced environment is paramount!


Our goal is to return our patients to the ocean as soon as possible. This takes place as soon as a patient recovers from its illness, injury or malnutrition. Our attending veterinarian must clear each patient for release.

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