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Gunnar, the U.S. Navy seal, dies at age 38

Eric Pfeiffer
The Sideshow

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Gunnar, the U.S. Navy seal (Mehgan Murphy/AFP)

He was a U.S. Navy seal best known for learning to use a screwdriver. And now Cold War veteran Gunnar has passed away on Monday. He was 38-years-old at the time of his death and enjoying some quiet living in Washington DC's National Zoo.

To be clear, Gunnar was not a U.S. Navy SEAL, the elite military group that took out Osama bin Laden. Rather, Gunnar was an actual seal, used by the Navy during the Cold War to fetch items from the ocean floor at depths of nearly 500 feet.

"In his career as a navy seal, Gunnar learned how to insert and remove equipment, use a screwdriver and turn a large wheel valve," the National Zoo said in a statement.

And despite his military experience, Gunnar actually outlived the typical male seal lifespan by about eight years.

Gunnar spent the last 33 years at the zoo, when he arrived there in January 1979 after being transferred from the Naval Oceans Systems Center in San Diego, California, where he was part of the Navy's Marine Mammal Program. Born in Iceland, Gunnar could reportedly hold his breath under water for 20 minutes at a time.

Gunnar fathered two female pups, Kara and Kjia, who now live at the Adventure Aquarium in New Jersey.

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