A 35-year-old male harbor seal named Luke, a resident of the Smithsonian National Zoo, had to be “humanely euthanized” on January 23, it was announced.
He suffered health problems due to old age, as the average lifespan for his species is 25 years in the wild and over 30 years in captivity, according to a statement from the zoo.
He had been receiving treatment from the animal care staff for a chronic infection in one of his ears, as well as high ocular pressure. He was given topical ear antibiotics, oral antibiotics and regular ear flushes for his infection and eye drops for his ocular pressure.
However, the treatments reportedly did not help much in terms of improving his situation. Keepers observed that his ocular disorder deteriorated and he started to experience difficulty orienting himself in his habitat pools.
“Due to Luke’s poor prognosis and declining quality of life, animal care staff made the decision to humanely euthanize him,” the statement said.
More information on Luke’s health condition will be available when a final pathology report is released in a few weeks.
Luke was born June 17, 1984, at the New York Aquarium in Brooklyn, New York. He was transferred to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in 2011 as part of a Species Survival Plan for harbor seals.
Visitors can still see Rabbit, a 13-year-old male member of the same species as Luke, along with a gray seal colony at the American Trail seal habitat.