Nov 1, 2012 3:05 PM by Greg Boyce
"Gidget," a 27-year-old California sea lion and beloved star of the Denver Zoo died yesterday.
"Gidget was a very charismatic animal that charmed millions of guests over the years at our sea lion show. She loved working with her keepers and awing guests with her swimming and agility. We are deeply saddened by this loss. She was adored by everyone that had the pleasure of meeting her," says Denver Zoo President/CEO Craig Piper.
In 2010 keepers began to see signs of stiffness and discomfort when walking. Veterinary staff diagnosed Gidget with arthritis and began treatments with anti-inflammatory medication and pain killers, while keepers altered Gidget's role in the sea lion show. Her participation was modified to include exercises like swimming that were part of her physical therapy and easy on her aging joints. The zoo also worked with outside experts, such as physical therapists and veterinary acupuncturists, to maintain her quality of life. Although zookeepers and zoo veterinarians did everything in their power to keep her comfortable, the 27-year-old sea lion continued to decline. According to the Association of Zoos & Aquariums California Sea Lion Species Survival Plan, the median life expectancy of a female sea lion is 22.3 years.
Gidget was a lifelong resident of Denver Zoo. She was born to parents, Skippy and Juanita, on June 17, 1985. In addition to being a star of the sea lion show, many guests will remember Gidget for giving then Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper a kiss to celebrate the City and the Zoo achieving the highest certification for sustainable management, ISO 14001 in 2009. Gidget was also well known for KUSA-TV sportscaster Drew Soicher's segment "Gidget Picks" where she predicted the winner of each Denver Broncos game by choosing between two team-logoed footballs every week. Although, she was not always accurate, guests still clamored to find out which team she was betting on until her "retirement" in the 2010 season.
Denver Zoo remains home to three other sea lions, adult male and female Nick and Luci and their daughter, Ady.