Zoey's found a home for life - and it's here at the Aquarium of Niagara's Rescue Cove, the outdoor harbor seal exhibit just inside the front gate of the Niagara Falls facility.
Zoey is a 3-year-old Atlantic harbor seal who was found stranded on a Massachusetts beach in 2009.
After being rescued by the New England Aquarium, she was later transferred to the Marine Animal Rehabilitation Center at the University of New England for the duration of her recovery. While at MARC, Zoey had surgery for a severe middle ear infection. She was the first seal to have this procedure; in the past, seals with this problem would have been euthanized, as they could not have been healed with antibiotics.
The surgery was similar to putting tubes in a human ear to drain out any fluid. The seriousness of the infection and surgery, however, made her unable to return to the wild, because she would not be able to dive to normal depths to hunt for her own food.
When the National Marine Fisheries Service offered the chance to give Zoey a permanent home, the Aquarium of Niagara didn't hesitate to claim her. A staff team of Nancy Chapin, executive director, Jenn Humphrey, marine mammal supervisor, and Dr. Ed Latson, attending veterinarian, took a road trip to pick up the latest addition to AON's growing family.
"Providing a permanent home for Zoey brought the incredible efforts and dedication of the team at MARC to completion. The Aquarium's willingness and ability to welcome her to our facility and share her story with our guests made their work a true success," Chapin said.
After being quarantined for 30 days in the hospital pool here, Zoey was introduced to the other four harbor seals. Senior trainers had already begun training basic behaviors while she was quarantined. This helps to build a positive and strong relationship with the trainers before they go on exhibit, Humphrey said.