Growing Old Isn’t Easy

How many of you remember seeing Diamond, our oldest sea lion, preform at the Aquarium? She always put on a great show and could swim faster than 25 miles per hour. Over the years Diamond has aged and her needs, habits and capabilities have changed too. Lucky for Diamond, the Aquarium’s team of Mammal Care experts has been with her every step of the way.

“Diamond is 28 and the median life expectancy for female sea lions is 22 years” said Deputy Director, Gary Siddall. “She’s been with us since she was two years old and we’ve seen her go full circle from a pup to a top performer to a senior citizen. Her needs are different now from when she was younger. For example, as she ages she’s not as motivated, and since she’s not participating in high-energy shows anymore we’re giving her exercise in different ways.”

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28 year-old Diamond on stage performing

Diamond was born in 1987 at the Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut and came to the Aquarium of Niagara in 1989. She was one of the sea lion stars and performed daily. At 16 Diamond started to lose her vision and in 2009 she had cataract surgery that restored partial vision. “At that time, cataract surgery was starting to become more common for sea lions as veterinarians were beginning to perfect the procedure”, explained Siddall “we had a team of specialists from all over the country assist with the surgery on Diamond’s eyes.”

Over the past several years, Diamond started to exhibit signs of arthritis and our team of trainers adjusted her participation in shows to focus on the needs of an aging animal. Because of her limited mobility, marine mammal trainers spent more time in the water with Diamond where movement and mobility is easier. Diamond’s medical needs are overseen by the Aquarium’s Veterinarian, Dr. Ed Latson.

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Dr. Melissa Mroziak(left) and Deputy Director Gary Siddall(right) with a mobile CT scan unit.

Earlier this week, Dr. Latson ordered a CT scan for Diamond to gain greater perspective on Diamond’s overall health as an aging animal. Dr. Melissa Mroziak donated her time and her mobile CT Scan Unit to take images of Diamond’s inner ear. “Imaging is superior to traditional x-rays”, explained Dr. Mroziak. “It allows us to see so much more and diagnose targeted treatment.” Mroziak started her practice just one year ago in Niagara Falls and now collaborates with the Greater Buffalo Veterinary Emergency Clinic on Genesee Street in Cheektowaga. To reach Dr. Mroziak go to her web site www.mobile-paws.com or call (716)-773-4838.

Diamond receives world-class animal care from our team of trainers, aquarium management, and our veterinarian. If you’re an “old timer” yourself you’ll remember Diamond in her younger days wowing the visitors at the Aquarium.

Original Article