NEWPORT, Ore. — The Oregon Coast Aquarium on Wednesday announced the passing of Pinky, a 34-year-old harbor seal and a beloved member of the aquarium's pinniped population.
Pinky was originally found as a stranded pup in Cordova, Alaska in June of 1986. She was brought to SeaWorld in San Diego for rehabilitation, and federal officials decided that she could not be released back into the wild.
"Pinky was named after the daughter of the fisherman who found her stranded in Cordova," the Oregon Coast Aquarium said. "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."
In May of 1992, Pinky was brought to the Newport aquarium and was one of the first seals to call it home.
"Pinky was the Aquarium’s most dominant pinniped," staff said. "Although she weighed just 170 pounds, she would often steal fish from Max, the Aquarium’s male sea lion who weighed over 500 pounds. Her favorite enrichment was chomping on piles of ice cubes."
Pinky could paint by holding a modified brush in her mouth, using a sweeping motion to color the canvas. She was also part of a study intended to identify if female harbor seals had a behavioral response to male harbor seal voices underwater.
The Oregon Coast Aquarium said that harbor seals can live into their twenties in the wild. In human care, they can live into their 30s, like Pinky did. She passed away after her quality of life started to decline, the staff said.
“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, the aquarium's Curator of Marine Mammals.