California Girl Adjusting to Long Island

It’s cold out there for a sea lion. Especially, if you’re a California girl, trying to figure out the Long Island climate.

“She’s never been in this climate before and she needs to gradually adjust,” Candy Paparo, the director of animal training at the Long Island Aquarium said of the aquarium’s newest addition.

Nila, a California Sea Lion, does not go outside if it’s less than 32 degrees. Lucky her.

“Next year, hopefully, she’ll be out all winter long,” Paparo said.

The 18-month-old sea lion arrived at the Long Island Aquarium last July. She was found malnourished, dehydrated and emaciated at the Naval Base in Point Mugu, California in March of 2014. At the time of her rescue by the Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute, Nila weighed only 18 pounds, a healthy pup of her age, 9 months at that time, should weigh about 40 to 50 pounds.

While, Nila recovered, the Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute and the National Marine Fisheries Service determined that due to her timid temperament she wasn’t releasable back into the wild.

“She didn’t have good survival skills and they felt she would not successfully forage for food,” Paparo said.

The National Marine Fishers Service contacted Paparo to see if the Long Island Aquarium would take Nila in and after the aquarium agreed Paparo and another member of the Animal Training Team went to Santa Barbara to retrieve the little sea lion.

Nila flew Fed EX’s Animal Transport program nearly 3,000 miles to Long Island where she stayed behind the scenes adjusting to her new home and slowly being introduced to the aquarium’s resident sea lions, Java and Bunker. She went on exhibit in December but until the weather gets warmer she won’t be on exhibit every day or even for the whole day.

Despite her aversion to the Long Island climate she seems to be settling in.

“She’s doing really really well,” Paparo said.