January 28, 2012 The El Paso Zoo is mourning the loss of its oldest California Sea Lion, 25-year-old Cleo. Cleo passed away on Thursday evening after an examination which required her to be sedated. Zoo keepers and zoo veterinarians had been keeping a close eye on Cleo after noticing a decreased appetite and some weight lost in the past few months. 

Veterinary and sea lion staff suspected an illness and had attempted to take a blood sample without sedation and were unsuccessful. Zoo keepers condition/train animals on a daily basis, as seen during the zoo's sea lion presentation, in an attempt to accomplish procedures like blood draws without more risky sedation if possible. Veterinary staff made the decision to perform a full examination with sedation because Cleo had progressed to a point where it was necessary. 

Anesthetic complications occurred during the procedure and Cleo did not recover well. A necropsy (animal autopsy) was performed by veterinary staff in an attempt to determine the cause of death and the initial illness. Final results are pending. 

"Zoo staff is deeply saddened to have lost Cleo. The loss of one of our beloved animals is always difficult for our staff who truly love and bond with our animals. Cleo will be greatly missed," said Steve Marshall, Zoo Director. 

As is routine with a sea lion death, zoo staff has notified our United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) veterinarian as well as our accrediting body, the Association of Zoo and Aquariums (AZA). 

Cleo came to the El Paso Zoo from the Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in March 2004. The zoo's remaining Sea lions are 13-year-old Sushi and 25-year-old Sunny. 

Locally recognized as the Best Place to Take the Kiddos, the El Paso Zoo sits on 35 acres of fun and adventure. Bigger and better than ever, the El Paso Zoo is an expansive green space that is home to exotic animals from around the world and features family attractions such as the African Star train and the Hunt Family Desert Spring. Accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), the El Paso Zoo celebrates the value of animals and natural resources and creates opportunities for people to rediscover their connection to nature. For more information, visit elpasozoo.org. For news and exclusive content, follow us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/elpasozoo) and YouTube (www.youtube.com/user/theelpasozoo).
El Paso, Texas (January 23, 2013) The Zoo's youngest resident, a female Slender-tailed Meerkat, is exploring her new home at the El Paso Zoo. Hot Lips, the 3-month-old born on October 22, has been off exhibit with the remainder of the mob since her birth. Weighing in at 310 grams (.68 pounds) on her first weigh-in about 10 days ago, she is now big enough to run around in the yard with the rest of the mob. 

Zoo keepers and Veterinary staff at the Zoo decided to keep her behind the scenes because of the cold weather and to prevent danger from predators. When this young, meerkats are very small and run the risk of having tunnels collapse on them without being able to climb out because of their size. The recent weather, temperatures lower than 50 degrees Fahrenheit, also encouraged keepers to keep them off exhibit because it was too cold for them outdoors. 

Guests can expect to see Hot Lips and the remainder of the mob on exhibit as long as the weather stays nice. "She's a typical baby. She's always around somebody and copies them- if they stand, she stands, if they dig, she digs," says Area Supervisor Andrea Skinner. 

Locally recognized as the Best Place to Take the Kiddos, the El Paso Zoo sits on 35 acres of fun and adventure. Bigger and better than ever, the El Paso Zoo is an expansive green space that is home to exotic animals from around the world and features family attractions such as the African Star train and the Hunt Family Desert Spring. Accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), the El Paso Zoo celebrates the value of animals and natural resources and creates opportunities for people to rediscover their connection to nature. For more information, visit elpasozoo.org. For news and exclusive content, follow us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/elpasozoo) and YouTube (www.youtube.com/user/theelpasozoo).
El Paso, Texas (November 26, 2012) The El Paso Zoo sadly announces the death of its beloved and iconic 26-year-old California Sea Lion, Sunny. Sunny passed away overnight in a behind the scenes pool where he was being closely monitored by keepers. Sunny was currently being kept off exhibit because he was not feeling well. The behind the scenes holding pool allowed his keepers and the zoo's medical team easier access to care for him as he was undergoing care for age related medical issues. 

Sunny was born at the El Paso Zoo on June 12, 1986 and has since touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of El Paso community members and its visitors. Sunny began teaching visitors about ocean conservation during Sea lion presentations more than 15 years ago and has since served as an ambassador of conservation. Sunny was the first Sea lion at any zoo to teach visitors about recycling by demonstrating how to put the correct items in a recycling bin. 

Sunny was also the trainer to new Sea lion trainers because he was so gentle and easy to work with. He was an animal that gave his keepers and visitors a personal experience- one that they may not get with other animals at the zoo . Photo - Sunny (left), Sushi (right) 

In the last couple of weeks, while Sunny was in his off exhibit pool, keepers made sure to spend time with him to let him know that they were there for him and loved him dearly. "We would sit with him and massage his back with the water hose, he really loved that. We are really going to miss him," said Area Supervisor Amanda Leverett. 

Keepers also ensured that Sunny was under constant expert care, keeping him comfortable at all times while trying to stimulate him to eat. "We spend more time with the animals than our own families. The bond we build with them is very important. It's an unbreakable bond," said Senior Zoo Keeper Billie York. Sushi, Sunny's exhibit companion had the chance to visit him daily to check up on him. Sushi and zoo staff had the opportunity to say good bye to Sunny this morning. 

"It is a sad day here for all staff at the zoo. Sunny was the face of the zoo- a true super star. The El Paso Zoo was blessed to have an iconic animal like Sunny. This is a great loss for us all and he will be missed dearly," said Zoo Director Steve Marshall. 

The Sea lion exhibit will remain open. Sea lion presentations have been cancelled today and will resume on Tuesday, November 27 at their regular time. Guests will continue to see Sushi, the zoo's 14-year-old sea lion, during daily presentations at 10:50 a.m. and 2:50 p.m. 

Anyone wishing to drop off a remembrance for Sunny can do so by dropping it off at the zoo's front gate or by dropping it off at the Sea lion exhibit during their zoo visit. The community is also being encouraged to share their photos with Sunny or a nice memory of him on the Zoo's facebook page.


Zoo staff is currently investigating the possibility of a meaningful remembrance for Sunny. Anyone wishing to contribute to his memory can make a monetary donation to the El Paso Zoological Society by calling 532-8156 or by stopping by their office at the zoo. 

Locally recognized as the Best Place to Take the Kiddos, the El Paso Zoo sits on 35 acres of fun and adventure. Bigger and better than ever, the El Paso Zoo is an expansive green space that is home to exotic animals from around the world and features family attractions such as the African Star train and the Hunt Family Desert Spring. Accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), the El Paso Zoo celebrates the value of animals and natural resources and creates opportunities for people to rediscover their connection to nature. For more information, visit elpasozoo.org. For news and exclusive content, follow us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/elpasozoo) and YouTube (www.youtube.com/user/theelpasozoo).