News Update News Update Cornish Seal Sanctuary
Issue 224
19th December 2023


Tamara Cooper, the Sanctuary´s Curator said "It is with huge sadness that we announce the passing of Diego, our beautiful resident sea lion here at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary on 17th December 2023.

In October this year, Diego experienced issues with paraphimosis, a urologic emergency that caused extreme inflammation and required urgent medical intervention.   However, despite initial success, a second setback in recent days saw him develop more complications, despite a quick response from our team and local veterinary partners.

Putting Diego´s welfare needs first, the difficult decision was made to let him go to ensure he did not needlessly suffer without hope of a full recovery.   At this time, we await lab results from a post-mortem examination to fully understand the cause of his sudden deterioration."
"For those who knew and met Diego on their visits, or supported us from afar, we hope you will join us in sharing your memories of this incredible soul.

Diego called the sanctuary home since he arrived in 2009 along with his brother Noito (photos below).   From the beginning, he was a joy for the team who cared for him and kept them entertained every day."
Diego and NotioDiego and Notio
"From sitting on his rock (that he loved to jump off) to monitoring the daily antics of the animal care team, he always knew what was happening around him - especially when the team was on the way to deliver his tasty mackerel or new toys to play with!"
"Often compared to a giant labrador, he had few boundaries when it came to personal space (luckily, our team was prepped for it!).   Sometimes, he would accidentally rest his flippers on their feet or, when asked to lie down for a body check, would make sure to come as close as possible, seeking assurance that everything was going to be okay.

He was also very loyal; when Diego was building a relationship with a new member of the team, he would look with great suspicion to his primary caregivers as if to say, "why are you letting this person feed me? I think it is probably best if you take over!"
"Every morning, Diego was there to greet the team at the underwater window, where he would boop his nose against the glass. He also loved to play hide and seek, chasing the team up and down through the windows."
"Diego had so much trust with his primary caregivers, even up to his last days with us.   A sensitive soul, he almost seemed embarrassed by his most minor slip ups. Sometimes, he would be so eager to interact with his trainer, he would trip over his cumbersome front flippers and then roar out of pure humiliation!"
"With his adorable and cheeky nature, Diego loved to push boundaries - for example, at the end of training sessions, Diego knew he would have to stay in the water whilst the animal care team left the enclosure. However, instead, he would always walk up the steps towards the team until they stopped and looked at him; he knew he was being cheeky and would slowly slip into the water, head resting on the side of the pool, and waiting for that last big handful of fish, letting him know he had been a good boy.

He loved learning, though, and one of his favourite things was going in his transport cage; he was always eager to please and never wanted to let his team down.   When learning new behaviours, he was always proud to show off his new talents (even after seeming to question why he needed to learn it in the first place)."
"Over the past year, Diego flourished, becoming his own sea lion and building an unbreakable bond with his team, who adored him. Since the passing of Noito, he had lots of one-on-one interaction with the team, often learning to play with new enrichment toys without trying to destroy them (despite not being very dexterous!).

One of his favourite forms of enrichment was ice mountains with fish hidden inside, but he also loved to be hand-fed tiny little ice cubes, one at time.   Other times, when he was given a feedball, he would have fun launching it around the pool with his great strength! He also loved his hose plait toys."
Jana Sirova, Head of Sanctuaries at SEA LIFE Trust, said "Diego will no doubt leave a large void at the Sanctuary, especially for those who cared for him daily. Just as the team was there for him, Diego was always there for them, too. He knew many a secret and would always be there for a little chin scratch - a bright spot, even on a bad day.

As we say goodbye to Diego, we would like to thank everyone who has been so supportive to our animal care team at this hard time, and the wider Cornish Seal Sanctuary team, who will miss him so much."