OSU veterinarians treats sea lion with heart trouble


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A fan favorite sea lion at the Oregon Coast Aquarium is now receiving treatment for heart troubles at Oregon State University.

Aquarium staff noticed Max, a 30-year-old sea lion who is usually playful, wasn’t acting like himself. He weighs around 500 pounds but had recently lost about 50.

After arriving at Oregon State University’s Lois Bates Acheson Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Max got a CT scan and bloodwork done.

The scans revealed that Max is suffering from congestive heart failure, with his heart performing at about 50% capacity.

The veterinarians, residents and students took this as a learning opportunity because they are more accustomed to caring for dogs, cats, cows and horses. Because there isn’t much sea-lion specific guidance, they decided to treat Max like they would treat a a geriatric dog with congestive heart failure. They said dogs are fairly similar physiologically. 

“He’s like a big playful yellow lab that has flippers and eats fish whole,” said Dr. Dan Lewer, director of veterinary services at the aquarium and owner of Willamette Veterinary Hospital in Corvallis.

Max will be on medication from now on to control his blood pressure.

The Oregon Coast Aquarium closed for the pandemic in mid-March, but reopened its outdoor exhibits three weeks ago and its indoor exhibits last week.

Max the sea lion is receiving veterinary care at Oregon State University. (OSU)

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