Sgt. Nevis during his stay at The Marine Mammal Center.
Today Sgt. Nevis had first-of-its-kind reconstructive surgery to close the open gunshot wound on his face. You might recall that Sgt. Nevis was the California sea lion that was seriously injured when he was shot by a fisherman in the Sacramento River 10 months ago. In fact, the Center rescued and treated 18 marine mammals, including Sgt. Nevis, that were shot with bullets and pellets last year.
Sadly, that gunshot injury was so severe that it prevented Sgt. Nevis from diving or putting his head under water. It even forced him to modify his breathing. In addition, he was at risk of infection and he wouldn't be able to return to the ocean because he couldn't dive to feed himself.
In fact, this inability to return to the wild was the impetus for the decision to place him at Six Flags in Vallejo, CA. It was at Six Flags that today's surgery was performed. Dr. Praful Ramenini, a human reconstructive surgeon from Washington D.C., flew in to perform the surgery and generously donated his time and services to the effort. He was supported by Center Veterinarian Dr. Bill Van Bonn and Six Flags park veterinary staff.
The surgical team loosened skin just above the wound and stretched it over the open wound during the two hour procedure, with the almost 700-pound marine mammal fully anesthetized. Sgt. Nevis will spend three to four days in dry recovery at Six Flags' Vet Clinic quarantine room before being transferred back to the Seal Cove exhibit.
Speaking of Seal Cove, Sgt. Nevis is already a favorite amongst park staff. He's described as being gentle, patient, smart and quick to learn. In fact, he already has a routine established: he tends to hang out at the exhibit's "beach" with the young female sea lions, Ella and Indigo!