Newport, Oregon — The Oregon Coast Aquarium is saddened to announce the passing of Pinky. She passed after a decline in her quality of life; she was 34 years old.
Pinky was found as a stranded pup in Cordova, Alaska on June 25th, 1986. She was transferred to Sea World in San Diego to be rehabilitated, where federal authorities deemed her non-releasable. Pinky was named after the daughter of the fisherman who found her stranded in Cordova. The dad and daughter visited Sea World shortly after she arrived. The daughter got a terrible sunburn and earned the nickname Pinky, which the animal care staff then named the stranded pup.
Pinky was one of the original seals to call Oregon Coast Aquarium home. She arrived in May 1992 when the Aquarium first opened our doors. Pinky was the Aquarium’s most dominant pinniped. Although she weighed just 170 pounds, she would often steal fish from Max, the Aquarium’s male sea lion who weighed over 500 pounds. Her favorite enrichment was chomping on piles of ice cubes.
Pinky learned how to paint by holding a modified paint brush in her mouth and making a sweeping motion across the canvas. Pinky also participated in research to identify if female harbor seals had a behavioral response to male harbor seal vocalizations underwater.
In the wild, harbor seals can live into their twenties. Under human care they can live into their thirties, like Pinky.
“We will all miss Pinky deeply, and how she always photo-bombed our selfies with her need to always be present around us humans”, says Brittany Blades, Curator of Marine Mammals.