Found malnourished, dehydrated and emaciated in California, baby sea lion Nila is on her way to a new home and a new life at the Long Island Aquarium & Exhibition Center in Riverhead— but she needs your help.
The East Main Street aquarium launched its first-ever fundraiser using the website GoFundMe.com to help transport Nila, and two trainers who will accompany her, from the Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute in Santa Barbara to the North Fork.
The have fundraised roughly $1,500 in eight days. They hope to raise $7,000 total.
Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute (CIMWI) rescued Nila at the Naval Base Ventura County in Point Mugu on March 17. Alone and frightened, she weighed only 18 pounds — healthy pups should weigh about 40 to 50 pounds.
Although she gained some weight once receiving proper treatment, CIMWI’s veterinarian and the National Marine Fisheries Service deemed her non-releasable since her timid temperament and behavior indicate she would not successfully forage for food or survive in the wild.
With the Long Island Aquarium being home to the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, New York State’s only authorized stranding and research facility dedicated to rescue and rehabilitation efforts, staffers jumped on the opportunity give Nila a permanent home in Riverhead.
Aquarium staff is hopeful Nila can be brought to their behind-the-scenes holding area for more rehabilitation as early as next week, she said.
Once she’s 100 percent healthy she will be introduced the aquarium’s other adult sea lions — 13-year-olds Java and Bunker — and to the public sea lion exhibit.
View more photos of Nila on the next page.