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The Marine Mammal Center is a nonprofit veterinary hospital, research, and educational center dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of ill and injured marine mammals and the study of their health. Since 1975, the Center has rescued and treated more than 16,500 marine mammals and has accumulated a body of knowledge about marine mammal and ocean health. Through public education about marine mammals, the Center hopes to foster ocean stewardship and conservation. For more information, visit http://www.marinemammalcenter.org/

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hospital Food Never Tasted So Good....

Watch this video of sea lions having lunch at The Marine Mammal Center.

May 12, 2010

Just the mere mention of "hospital food" doesn't typically conjure up strong hunger pangs. But here at The Marine Mammal Center lunch is a much anticipated event for both the marine mammals and the Center's visitors.

Feeding protocols vary for every patient at the Center. The type, amount and frequency of food each animal receives depends on the following: species, age, body condition, and specific medical problem.

Sometimes a patient will be suffering from dehydration upon arrival at the Center. The staff and volunteers give the animal an electrolyte solution for rehydration. The electrolyte solution is given either orally or under the skin.

Then the feeding regimen can begin. Pups receive formula via a tube. A volunteer inserts a soft, flexible feeding tube into the marine mammal's stomach via its esophagus.

Once pups have stabilized and their teeth have erupted, they go to "fish school" - volunteers offer easy to "catch" thawed frozen fish. The fish may be dragged through the pool on a string or held with forceps.

Over time, the pup moves on to the next stage: free-feeding. This means the pup must compete with others to get the fish.

Before a patient can be released, he must be able to forage for food on his own. One technique used to ensure this is offering live fish in order to make certain that the animal can track, catch and eat on its own.

Once an animal is free-feeding, volunteers put the fish in the pool and let the animal eat on its own. This competition with other patients simulates most closely what life will be like once they are released back into the ocean.

Bon appetit!

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