OKLAHOMA CITY -- Midge, a popular sea lion and long-time resident of the Oklahoma City Zoo, died Friday after a short illness.
The 25-year-old California sea lion first came to Oklahoma City in 1986 when the zoo debuted Aqauticus at the Noble Aquatic Center. She had a starring role in the sea lion shows and became popular with audiences for her tricks and antics. She was also well known for her painting talents. The art she created was featured in Oklahoma City galleries and used to raise money for animal aid organizations.
"Midge has been a wonderful ambassador for the Zoo by educating and entertaining hundreds of thousands of people about sea lions, conservation and the environment," said Dwight Scott, Zoo Executive Director. "She will be missed by many."
Zookeepers said Midge had been ill for the past few weeks. She refused to eat and appeared lethargic. The veterinary staff performed a number of tests including blood work, radiographs and ultrasounds to diagnose her illness. Although they could not determine an exact cause, they strongly suspected cancer.
An Oklahoma City Zoo spokesperson said a team of trainers, curators and veterinarians made the difficult decision to euthanize Midge. Preliminary findings from a necropsy, an animal autopsy, indicated the sea lion suffered from lung cancer. Final results from the necropsy will not be available for several weeks.