Seoul Zoo retires sea lion presentation

Seoul Zoo has ended all its animal events after retiring a California sea lion, Bangwuli, from presentation to visitors ― the last animal show it ran.

The zoo said Thursday that it closed the Bangwuli presentation late last month to treat the male sea lion because he looked distracted and had difficulty digesting fodder.

The Bangwuli show was the last animal event at the zoo after it released Jedori, a Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin, into the sea off Jejudo Island on July 18. Jedori had a stunt show.

"Bangwuli is 25 years old. He is well advanced in age, considering the life expectancy of California sea lions ranges from 20 to 25 years," a zoo official said.

Bangwuli was born in 1989 in Seoul Zoo, transferred to Pacific Land in Jungmun Marine Park on Jejudo island in 1995, and then came back to the zoo in 2002.

He began posing in a photo shoot twice a day in 2005, but showed abnormal behaviour, such as refusing to participate, starting in 2009. Then the zoo changed the photo shoot into a show, but still, Bangwuli seemed fatigued, according to the zoo.

These days, the zoo injects Bangwuli with nutrients, feeds him various fodders, weighs him twice a week, and makes more efforts to control his water quality.

The zoo is carefully considering moving Bangwuli to an outdoor display area with two Otarias (South American sea lions) if he makes a full recovery.

Located near Seoul in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi Province, Seoul Zoo houses over 3,400 individual animals of about 360 species.