Hogle Zoo staff and patrons are mourning the loss of the California Sea Lion known as “Big Guy” Tuesday. The 650 pound sea lion was blind from an unknown injury in the wild. He came to the zoo just as the Rocky Shores feature opened in 2012. Dr. Nancy Carpenter, the Associate Director of Animal Health at Hogle Zoo says staff and visitors quickly grew to love him.
“Yeah, yeah, he was just a phenomenal animal and of course he was so huge and so to come by the zoo, even if you didn’t see the little ones in the pool, you weren’t going to go through Rocky Shores and not see Big Guy and so I think a lot of people got to see him," Dr. Carpenter says. "He swam with his flippers way out so he looked huge when he was swimming, he was kind of like a big airplane going by under the water and everybody’s going to miss him desperately yeah,” says Carpenter.
She says Big Guy seemed to be having an off day on the 4th of July so staff members consulted colleagues around the country. Most agreed that he likely had a form of cancer that is common in sea lions. He passed away during further examination.
Hogle Zoo spokesperson Erica Hansen says the outpouring of affection for Big Guy on social media has been amazing but very difficult to read.