Aquarium loses Pinky the harbor seal

Pinky the harbor seal died after a decline in her quality of life. She was 34 years old and lived at the Oregon Coast Aquarium since 1992.

NEWPORT — The Oregon Coast Aquarium recently announce the death of Pinky the harbor seal, who died after a decline in her quality of life. She was 34 years old. 

Pinky was found as a stranded pup in Cordova, Alaska, on June 25, 1986. She was transferred to SeaWorld San Diego to be rehabilitated, where federal authorities deemed her non-releasable. Pinky was named after the daughter of the fisherman who found her stranded in Cordova. The dad and daughter visited SeaWorld shortly after she arrived. The daughter got a terrible sunburn and earned the nickname Pinky, which the animal care staff then named the stranded pup. 

Pinky was one of the original seals to call Oregon Coast Aquarium home. She arrived in May 1992, when the aquarium first opened its doors. Pinky was the aquarium’s most dominant pinniped. Although she weighed just 170 pounds, she would often steal fish from Max, the aquarium’s male sea lion who weighed more than 500 pounds. Her favorite enrichment was chomping on piles of ice cubes. 

She learned how to paint by holding a modified paintbrush in her mouth and making a sweeping motion across the canvas. Pinky also participated in research to identify if female harbor seals had a behavioral response to male harbor seal vocalizations underwater. 

In the wild, harbor seals can live into their 20s. Under human care, they can live into their 30s, like Pinky. 

“We will all miss Pinky deeply, and how she always photo bombed our selfies with her need to always be present around us humans,” said Brittany Blades, curator of marine mammals. 

About Oregon Coast Aquarium 

The Oregon Coast Aquarium creates unique and engaging experiences that connect people to the Oregon coast and inspire ocean conservation. An accredited Association of Zoos & Aquariums institution, this 501(c)3 nonprofit organization is ranked as one of the top 10 aquariums in the U.S. It is located at 2820 SE Ferry Slip Road in Newport.


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