Alaska SeaLife Center Mourns Loss of Steller Sea Lion
March 17, 2015

Seward, Alaska (March 5, 2015) - The Alaska SeaLife Center (ASLC) is saddened to announce the loss of Sugar, a 21-year-old female Steller sea lion.

Despite efforts of ASLC Animal Care and Veterinary staff, Sugar was humanely euthanized after complications with bone degeneration on March 4.

As a result of Sugar’s mature age, veterinarians had been closely monitoring her health. Sugar had not been previously showing any signs of discomfort or pain when significant bone loss/damage was revealed by routine radiograph screening for age related bone changes such as arthritis. 

The disease advanced quickly. Animal Care and Veterinary staff made all attempts to make Sugar as comfortable as possible, thereby ensuring quality of life to the end.

Sugar was born in May 1993. She and ASLC’s oldest male sea lion, Woody, came to Seward from the Vancouver Aquarium when they were both five years old. Known for her animated personality, Sugar was a favorite among staff and visitors.

ASLC President and CEO Dr. Tara Riemer said, “Sugar has been a part of the Alaska SeaLife Center family since even before we opened in 1998.  Having worked at the Center since 2003, I can't imagine not having such a well-trained and beautiful animal in our midst. She will be sorely missed."

“Her real name was Sugarloaf but Sugar fit her so well. She contributed so much to our knowledge of the health and physiology of her species and captured our hearts in the process,” Dr. Pam Tuomi, Senior Veterinarian said.

A necropsy will be performed at ASLC in hopes of learning more about this disease. ASLC’s Steller sea lion program significantly contributes to the understanding of these animals - their reproduction, habitats and sustainability.

About Steller Sea Lions

Steller sea lions are the largest member of the eared seal family. The species ranges across the northern Pacific Ocean, from Japan through the Aleutian Islands and southeast Alaska to northern California. Divided into eastern and western regions, the western population is currently listed as endangered.

About the ASLC

Opened in 1998, the Alaska SeaLife Center operates as a private, non-profit research institution and public aquarium, with wildlife response and education programs. It generates and shares scientific knowledge to promote understanding and stewardship of Alaska’s marine ecosystems. The ASLC is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. To learn more, visit

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