Aquarium of Niagara to Offer Weekend of Celebrations as Rescued Harbor Seal Turns 40

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By: Staff Reporter

The Aquarium of Niagara is planning a weekend-long celebration for one of its rescued harbor seals in honor of her 40th birthday.

“Sandy” was rescued off the coast of Washington state in 1980 as an abandoned pup. Abandoned harbor seal pups do not have the skills necessary to survive in their natural environment, so Sandy was deemed non-releasable and brought to the Aquarium of Niagara.

Sandy became famous in 1987 when she became the first harbor seal in the world to undergo a successful cataract removal surgery.  Cataracts are common among pinnipeds like seals and sea lions, and the successful surgery restored vision to Sandy’s right eye and alleviated any discomfort caused by the cataract.

The groundbreaking surgery was performed right at the Aquarium of Niagara. This procedure is now widely practiced at zoos and aquariums around the world.

The average lifespan of a harbor seal is 20-25 years, which means Sandy has lived double the amount of time she would be expected to survive in her natural environment. She is checked weekly by the Aquarium’s veterinarians, and receives daily husbandry care like vitamins and medications, tooth brushing, and nail clippings.

“Sandy’s 40th birthday is truly a testament to the high level of care provided at the Aquarium of Niagara,” said Executive Director Gary Siddall. “Sandy has been an integral part of the Aquarium for four decades, and we are thankful for the opportunity to help her celebrate her golden years in comfort and good health.”

Sandy’s birthday celebrations will take place on Saturday, August 1st and Sunday, August 2nd. Celebrations will include the presentation of an elaborate ice cake at noon on both Saturday and Sunday.Aquarium visitors will have the opportunity to purchase themed cookies, a Sandy-themed Aquaparent adoption package, and a commemorative Sandy plush.

The Aquarium is open 9am-9pm on Saturday and 9am-7pm on Sunday. Due to COVID-19-related capacity restrictions, visitors are strongly encouraged to purchase admission tickets online ahead of their visit.


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