Sea Lion Undergoes Plastic Surgery for Face

Filed in Gather News Channel by on October 9, 2010 0 Comments

In what many are calling a first, a male sea lion shot by a fisherman underwent surgery to fix two gaping holes in his nose, allowing him to once again hunt. This operation is being heralded as the first plastic surgery on a sea lion and was performed by Dr. Praful Ramenini, a Washington, D.C. surgeon who specializes in gunshot wounds. Dr. Ramenini volunteered his services for this remarkable event.

Details of Operation

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the sea lion was corralled by rescuers in December at Knights Landing, a delta community in Yolo County. As the gunshot wound through his nose prevented him from diving because his nose would fill with water, he was starving and 300 pounds underweight.

On Friday at 10am, the sea lion was wheeled in a steel cage to the vet clinic at Discovery Kingdom. Doctors gave him an injection of Versed, a sedative given to humans before surgery and then waited as the sea lion took 45 minutes to nod off. What was going through the sea lions brain is anyone’s guess.

The doctors were so afraid of waking him they decided to keep him in the cage and operate on him there. With a dozen technicians holding flashlights and handing over instruments, doctors peeled back the skin on his face and stitched it back together, closing the quarter-sized holes on his nose with extra-thick, dissolvable sutures. By noon, the sea lion was awake, lolling his head upwards and enjoying a dousing of cold water from a garden hose. Staff wheeled him back to the park’s Seal Cove, where he’ll recuperate in a quiet area for a few days before rejoining his cove-mates and entertaining the public.

Worth the Time and Money?

Truly, this is an amazing story of success; however, could skeptics make the argument that this sea lion should have just been left to fend for himself in the wild? With humans encroaching on the ocean’s calm (watch the movie The Cove for further details), was interfering with this sea lion’s predicament the right thing to do? Moreover, it seems that there was a lot of money involved with this rescue, who’s footing the bill for these services? Taxpayers? Private donors?

With the economy in shambles and people losing jobs, do you think resources were well spent here?

Manuel Rodriguez

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