MARIN (CBS SF) — A rehabilitated California sea lion was given a Christmas Eve send-off when he was released back to the ocean Monday in Marin County, a Marine Mammal Center spokesman said.

“Keekee” the sea lion was rescued from the Monterey Bay near Cannery Row on Nov. 5 when he was found to be lethargic, malnourished and suffering from apparent bite marks on his neck, center officials said.

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The sickly sea lion was brought to the Marine Mammal Center in the Marin Headlands where veterinarians examined him and discovered he had intestinal flukes and a low red blood cell count.

After many weeks of treatment, Keekee got healthier and was eating more—nearly 6 pounds of herring daily—before his release at Rodeo Beach near the mammal center on Christmas Eve morning, center spokesman Jim Oswald said.

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He was released from him his carrier and waddled into the surf, barking with apparent excitement with a small crowd watching his return to the sea.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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