Como Zoo officials heartbroken over death of Stanley, 3-year-old seal

Zookeepers at Como Zoo in St. Paul said they were heartbroken Tuesday to share that a 3-year-old gray seal had died.

Stanley died after surgery to relieve a painful eye condition.

He came to the zoo in February 2021 after he was found stranded off the coast of Biddeford in Maine, zoo officials wrote on their website. He had infected wounds and severe inflammation and perforations on his eyes from having a piece of plastic twine wrapped around his neck.

He was deemed blind and not releasable to the wild when the Mystic Aquarium Animal Rescue Program rescued him.

Zookeepers said he had to have medication twice a day to battle calcium deposits that continued to increase on his eyes. The zoo’s ophthalmologist described the mineral deposits as “a feeling akin to blinking over sandpaper.”

Despite short-term treatments, the deposits continued to regrow so zoo officials decided to attempt conjunctival grafts on his eyes to give protective covering over the surface of his eye to prevent the build up.

A team of anesthesiologists from the University of Minnesota, two veterinarians, including an ophthalmic veterinarian, and several members of the zoo worked together to perform the procedure. Seal anesthesia and surgery is a risky procedure, zoo officials said on their website.

The surgery was a success, but “despite all efforts, Stanley never woke up from surgery. … Stanley will be greatly missed.”

CC, the zoo’s oldest sea lion, died in April at the age of 31.