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Pittsburgh Zoo's popular sea lion Hawk dies

Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium reopens after recent deaths of 2 animals
Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium reopens after recent deaths of 2 animals 00:20

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The Pittsburgh Zoo's popular sea lion Seahawk has died at age 18. 

The zoo said Seahawk, or Hawk, died suddenly on Friday, the day after their elephant calf Tsuni died. Hawk is the fifth animal to die at the zoo since the summer. 

Hawk started exhibiting unusual behaviors and refused food for several days, the zoo said. To diagnose him, the zoo said he needed to be sedated, but sedating a compromised animal carries "a certain risk," and Hawk "experienced an adverse reaction" and died.  

The sea lion was rescued in 2006 after being orphaned on the coast of California as a pup. 

"He quickly became a favorite at the Zoo, enjoying a great bond with keepers and guests alike. He was often seen enjoying the pool and heard making a wide variety of wonderful vocalizations. Hawk and his antics will be greatly missed," the zoo wrote in a Facebook post. 

The zoo said Hawk leaves behind a legacy of conservation, and he's the father of Kai, a pup born last summer. 

The Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium closed on Saturday "out of respect for staff and recent animal losses in the month of February." It came after the zoo announced the death of 2-year-old Tsuni on Thursday, but the zoo hadn't announced the death of Hawk yet. 

The zoo also lost Kovu the red panda in July. Kit the lion died shortly after and Mrithi the gorilla died last month. 

"As always, Zoo staff will honor the wonder inspired by Hawk and his fellow residents by continuing to focus on the well-being of our resident animals," the zoo wrote on Facebook. 

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