SANTA CRUZ (CBS SF) – A sea lion found on the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf suffering from a gunshot wound last week was euthanized Thursday night.

The California sea lion, dubbed King Neptune, was put down after tests determined that his condition had deteriorated significantly, officials with the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito said.

An infection from the gunshot wound had spread to his chest, causing a serious case of pneumonia to develop. The wound was also failing to heal and muscles along his spine were atrophying, a center spokeswoman said.

King Neptune, a young adult male, was rescued from the wharf Aug. 17 after he was spotted by a member of the public.

He was lethargic and underweight, and veterinarians at the center’s Sausalito facility found that he had been shot by a large-caliber weapon. X-rays showed bullet fragments lodged dangerously close to his spine.

Veterinarians estimate the sea lion was shot a few days before the rescue. He was put on antibiotics and painkillers, but officials reported difficulty in persuading him to eat.

King Neptune is the fourth sea lion suffering from gunshot wounds that the center has rescued this year.

In May, a female pup that had been shot was also rescued from the Santa Cruz wharf but did not survive. The two other pinniped rescues recovered from their injuries and were released into the wild, center spokesman Jim Oswald said.

The center admitted 9 patients with gunshot wounds in 2010, and 19 in 2009.

It is illegal to harm or harass a marine mammal. Anyone with information on this shooting or any other cases of animal abuse or injuries is asked to call the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Law Enforcement at (831) 647-2127.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Comments (17)
  1. kl says:

    I am finding more and more reason to not like people.

  2. Jadǝ Purǝlica says:

    Unbelievable! Who shoots animals, let alone sea lions?!

  3. eknirb says:

    thugs. RIP Neptune, you deserved much better.

  4. Dennis says:

    I hope the shooter is caught. I also hope they release his name so I can shoot him in the spine to see how he likes it.

  5. Tours Martel says:

    Interesting to note how many readers have a more emotional response to a sea lion’s shooting than to a person’s. I wonder if a commercial fisherman’s child starved due to lack of fish if these folks would feel the pain.

    1. joe says:

      That’d be a pretty bad fisherman.

    2. David says:

      What are you talking about? Are you implying that a commercial fisherman shot this sea lion to feed his starving child? That makes no sense.

      Why shouldn’t people express disappointment in an animal being harmed? It doesn’t mean we aren’t more compassionate toward humans as well.

    3. Roberta says:

      There’s always an idiot comment like that.

    4. Kat Smith says:

      Oh, please.
      What a stoopid comment.

    5. Gary Olson says:

      A fishermans children thankfully are not marine mammals trying to survive in the ocean. The wild natural world that sea lions, seals, and sea otters are faced with surviving in, presents many challenges for their existence. One of those challenges should not be a 30-30 in the hands of frustrated fishermen. I dare say there are few starving familes of the fishing community. If you’re looking for the real culprits in the demise of our ocean fisheries, look to environmental degradation, and the the huge international fishing factories a float on the high seas with their wide cast drag neeting practices. Sea lions are not decimating our fisheries, they are just easy targets who can’t fire back.

  6. PNJ says:

    can you trace the bullet to the gun and then gun to owner if registered?

  7. Tours Martel says:

    Only if the gun is recovered, and it hasn’t been stolen. We are fortunate to live in a society that has not reached that level of government oppression. The British have and now suffer the consequences of higher crime and lesser freedoms.

  8. dk says:

    Usually it’s fishermen that shoot sea lions. They view them as vermin that steal their catches. Unfortunately, this has been going on for years.

  9. Humans Suck says:

    People really disgust me. And yes, sometimes I do feel more compassion for animals. The human race is becoming more and more sick, untrustworthy and vengeful. Animals have an innocence that people don’t have. They don’t have hate in their hearts. Whoever did this deserves to be shot in the spine. And unfortunately he/she most likely will not be punished for this horrible crime. RIP King Neptune 🙁

  10. fabio says:

    Tours Martel – whoever the hell you – hope you rot in hell. If you care so much for starving children, go feed them or have less of them. You xxxhole…