Como Zoo's oldest sea lion, CC, has died

(Como Zoo )

St. Paul Como Zoo’s oldest sea lion has died. She was 31. 

Sealia, better known as "CC," died on Saturday, April 16, the zoo announced Tuesday. She lived a long life – the average life expectancy of a sea lion is 15-25 years.

CC starred in the "Sparky Show," from 2002 until she retired in 2015, and was the sixth sea lion to star as Sparky and was the first female Sparky in the beloved show. Her tricks included ball balance, flipper stands, and speed swims. 

The California sea lion was born at the Como Zoo and was the Grand Dame of Como Harbor, the new seal and sea lion habitat that opened last year at the zoo. She loved spending time in her "hot tub" (a kiddie pool filled with warm water).

CC enjoying her hot tub.  (Como Zoo)

"CC was very smart," senior zookeeper Allison Jungheim said in an announcement. "She had her own preferences for trainers, fish, sleeping locations, and much more. She had her keepers wrapped around her flipper, who were always willing to cater to her wishes." 

In addition to the tricks she learned for the "Sparky Show," CC also knew husbandry behaviors like tooth brushing, voluntary vaccinations and voluntary blood draws, which helped her live to be one of the oldest sea lions in the Association of Zoo and Aquarium institutions, the zoo said. 

In recent weeks, CC’s health had declined, with the zoo noting she had gone off food for several weeks and bloodwork showed she had decreased kidney function and a possible "system infection." Despite veterinary efforts, CC’s health continued to decline and the zoo made the "difficult decision" to euthanize the seal on Saturday, surrounded by her zookeepers. 

"Como Zoo is proud of the great work we do with our animals, and this animal’s long life is a result of the amazing care by zookeepers and veterinary staff, as well as the zoo industry embracing and learning more about geriatric animals in captivity," Michelle Furrer, manager of Como Park Zoo & Conservatory said in a statement. "Great medical care, carefully formulated diets, and comfortable housing for all Como’s animals contribute to the excellent health and lifespan of our animals."

The zoo called her a "beloved ambassador" to her species, adding she’ll be "deeply missed" by those who knew and cared for her, including her finned-friends Subee, Poppy, Niko, Kash, Kilian, Stan and Wally. 

The Como Zoo announced earlier this month the popular "Sparky Show" will resume on May 7. The re-imagined show will highlight all seven animals that live in the Como Harbor, each adopting the role of "Sparky" on any given day.