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Into the wild: Mojo on the mend

Before/after: left, Mojo, three weeks after the pup
Before/after: left, Mojo, three weeks after the pup's arrival at Wolf Hollow; right, a more recent photo, after putting on about 80 pounds.
— image credit: Courtesy of Wolf Hollow

Big and fat, and a bit noisy, too.

That may not sound like the picture of health, but if you're a young male Stellar sea lion, living large is the way to go.

So it goes with Mojo, the Stellar sea lion pup that has been in the care of Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center for the past two months. Thin, weak and alarmingly dehydrated when it arrived at the San Juan Island-based rehabilitation center in mid-February, the young Stellar, believed to be about nine months old, has put on about 50 pounds over the past eight weeks and is on the road to recovery, according to Wolf Hollow's Shona Aitken, education coordinator.

"When he arrived at Wolf Hollow he weighed just over 80 pounds and his hip bones and every vertebra in his spine were visible," Atiken notes in a recent update about Mojo's condition. "He had to be kept in an indoor area equipped with a heating pad because he had no blubber to keep him warm. Now he weighs around 130 pounds and is round and plump."

Nicknamed "Mojo" because the pup was found on a beach near the coastal town of Moclips, on the southwest side of the Olympic Peninsula, the young male, presumably abandoned at that time, is only the second Stellar sea lion that Wolf Hollow has taken under its wing in 30 years of caring for injured wildlife. That's two out of roughly 12,000 animals Wolf Hollow has cared for over three decades.

And with Mojo on the mend, it appears Wolf Hollow is still batting 1,000, when it comes to Stellars. The center nursed a young female Stellar, nicknamed "Sedna", back to health about six years ago. Like Sedna before him, Mojo is on a trajectory to be released back into the wild in several weeks or so, Aitken said.

Initially, Mojo spent several weeks in intensive care, in a room inside the rehab center equipped with a heating pad to keep it warm. Its now been romping around outdoors, in an enclosure equipped with a pool, a heat lamp and a plump pillow that it appears to cuddle up against like a surrogate "mom", according to Aitken, for more than a month.

While the future looks bright for Mojo, recovery hasn't come cheap. In fact, the pup gobbles down about 15 pounds or more of high-quality herring each day to put on all that weight and much needed blubber. Wolf Hollow has set up a "Mojo Fish Fund" to help offset the expense of restoring the pup back to health.

Donations can be made either online at Wolf Hollow's website, www.wolfhollowwildlife.org, or by mail; Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehab Center, P.O. Box 391, Friday Harbor, WA, 9850.

— Scott Rasmussen

 

 

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