Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Chino is growing!

Chino is a 4 year old California sea lion who came to Como Zoo in April,2007. He came from the Marine Mammal Care Center in San Pedro, California after suffering permanent jaw damage from being tangled in garbage in the ocean. Once Chino reached a healthy weight, they determined through x-rays that his jaw damage went all the way to the bone and he would never be able to hunt for live fish in the wild. He has been a fast learner from the moment they started training him, and has made leaps and bounds in his training over the last year.

One behaviors we trained was to allow us to measure how wide he can open his mouth. As you can see his scar runs almost completely around his head, and veterinary staff want to document how his growth affects his injury. His injury could potentially cause him problems if if the scar tissue doesn't stretch as he grows which could further restrict his range of motion. As a young male, Chino still has a lot of growing to do. When he came to Como he weighed about 160 pounds, and he's gained over 100 pounds since then! He could easily grow to weigh between 500 and 900 pounds! We were not sure how his jaw would respond to this growth, but it appears he is doing very well! When we first measured his mouth, it opened about 4.7 centimeters and now he is opening it 6.3 centimeters! Way to go Chino!

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