The Georgia Aquarium is mourning the loss of long-time attraction Oz, the 18-year-old sea otter that was part of the aquarium when it opened in 2005.
After suffering several seizures Tuesday, Oz was given an MRI which revealed lesions on the brain.
“Heartbreakingly, Oz did not recover or regain mobility,” the aquarium posted on its Twitter feed Thursday evening.
On Thursday afternoon Oz was humanely euthanized, according to the aquarium’s web site.
This sudden loss is devastating. Oz has been a part of our family since we opened in 2005 and came to us from Oregon Zoo. He was our senior sea otter who was a companion and leader to the other sea otters. pic.twitter.com/o0IrHtLzaO— Georgia Aquarium (@GeorgiaAquarium) February 21, 2019
Oz came to the Georgia Aquarium from the Oregon Zoo. He arrived with fellow sea otter Gracie, who died in 2017 at 19 years old.
“He was our senior sea otter who was a companion and leader to the other sea otters,” the aquarium posted.
He leaves behind three other otters, Brighton, Bixby, and Cruz.
At 18, Oz was considered a geriatric animal, but except for signs of potential arthritis he hadn’t suffered major health issues.
“Oz will be cherished by his trainers for his gentle spirit, charm, and mischief of always snagging the largest enrichment items from the other otters,” the aquarium posted.
Dr. Tonya Clauss, senior director of animal health at the aquarium, said her veterinary team, along with pathologists from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, conducted a necropsy on Oz, in an effort to understand his unexpected seizures and rapid decline thereafter.
She said full results from the necropsy will be available in the coming weeks.
According to the aquarium’s web site, sea otters are currently listed as “endangered” from such threats as entanglement in fishing nets, oil spills and shark attacks.
Male sea otters in human care generally live 10-15 years, according to the web site; females live 15-20.