MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Memphis Zoo announced the death of Andre, a California sea lion who spent 17 years at the zoo.
Andre was brought to Memphis after being rescued. He lived at Marine Life Oceanarium in Gulfport, Mississippi, until the facility was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He was 11 years old at that time and was found 12 days after the storm in a marshland area.
According to the Memphis Zoo, his trainers from Marine Life were able to get to the site with help from law enforcement. They retrofitted a canoe to hold a transport crate and get it close to where he was. He followed his trainers to the crate and loaded right in. He was then brought to Memphis where he has lived ever since. He fathered three pups while he was in Memphis - Teva, Gracie and Zoey.
"Andre was a very good-natured individual. We are very lucky to have had such a gentle male sea lion. Andre had a very active role in our training program. His most important role was as a teacher," the zoo said on Wednesday. "Andre was the first sea lion that new keepers would work with as he was very patient while new keepers learned the basics of training. He also formed a strong bond with his trainers and demonstrated more advanced behaviors such as voluntary radiographs and EKGs."
The zoo said he liked to welcome guests to sea lion shows with his very loud roar.