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​Buddy the blind sea lion goes to Los Angeles Zoo

A nearly 700-pound blind California sea lion named Buddy has taken up residence at the Los Angeles Zoo, where his vocalizations can be heard throughout the 133-acre (54-hectare) facility.
A nearly 700-pound blind California sea lion named Buddy has taken up residence at the Los Angeles Zoo, where his vocalizations can be heard throughout the 133-acre (54-hectare) facility.
Jamie Pham

He's big and he's loud.

A nearly 700-pound blind California sea lion named Buddy has taken up residence at the Los Angeles Zoo, where his vocalizations can be heard throughout the 133-acre (54-hectare) facility.

The zoo said Monday the approximately 10-year-old sea lion is adapting well to his habitat at the Sea Life Cliffs exhibit since arriving in late May. Buddy is slated to make his public debut Tuesday morning.

Unable to hunt or defend himself, the huge pinniped was malnourished, emaciated and blind when he was rescued at Manhattan Beach in July 2016 and brought to the Marine Mammal Care Center Los Angeles.

Andrea Delegal, an animal keeper at the Los Angeles Zoo, told KPCC that sea lions' lifestyles can contribute to the kind of eye damage Buddy has sustained.

"Because they're having to spend more time in the water traveling further out to get fish, and they sit directly eye level with the water, so the UV rays are a lot stronger so it damages eyes quicker," Delegal said.

He was rehabilitated for 10 months but could not be released due to his injuries and blindness, so the zoo took him in. Delegal said Buddy is making full use of his enclosure. 

"Even though he's blind, they have nerve endings at the end of the whiskers so he finds his way around the exhibit ... he uses the whole entire exhibit," Delegal said. 

Buddy lives with three harbor seals but the zoo expects more sea lions.