A 21 year old, male, facility born, California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) presented with acute dysphagia that did not improve despite various therapeutic measures. Attempts to force feed were not successful. Voluntary stomach tube training also proved unsuccessful. Several types of nasogastric (NG) feeding tubes were placed (under anesthesia) and were useful for short periods of time. Over time, however, repeated access to the syringe port of the NG tubes became increasingly difficult. Ultimately a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tube was placed and showed promise for providing nourishment to the animal. Despite therapeutic efforts, the animal expired. Nasogastric or PEG tube placement may offer useful alternatives in feeding anorexic or dysphagic sea lions.
The authors wish to thank the staff of the Dolphin Research Center, Michael Dunn, David Stelling, William Fenner, and Marty Haulena for their support.