BOOKS: Astro: The Steller Sea Lion

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2010:
(Actual press date November 3.)

Astro: The Steller Sea Lion by Jeanne Walker Harvey
Sylvan Dell Publishing (612 Johnnie Dodds, Suite A2
Mount Pleasant, SC 29464), 2010. * 32 pages, paperback. $8.95.

No one knows how the baby sea lion washed upon the shore in
Morrow Bay Harbor, near San Luis Obispo, California, in December
2008. A scientist who saw the abandoned pup took him to the Marine
Mammal Center in Marin County, just across the Golden Gate Bridge
from San Francisco. Staff and volunteers named the sea lion Astro.
At ten months of age, when Astro was healthy enough for
release into the Pacific, he was fitted with a satellite tag so that
the Marine Mammal Center could monitor his travels. Astro was
returned to the beach where he was found, but the sea did not
interest him. Neither did the other sea lions lingering on the sand.
Astro waited for two days for his human friends to return for him.

Several later release attempts failed in the same manner.
Early separation from his mother left Astro unable to learn to
survive on his own. In May 2009 Astro was transferred to the Mystic
Aquarium in Mystic, Connecticut. There he occupies the Pribilof
Islands exhibit with two female sea lion pups who were rescued by
SeaWorld San Diego at Ocean Beach and Oceanside Harbor,
respectively, in January and February 2009.
This children’s book tells a delightful story that should
captivate young minds. It is also educational, memorably explaining
that wild animals, including sea lions, do best on their own.
Dependence on humans deprives them of the ability to survive in their
natural habitat. Some, like Astro and his companions, can be
rescued if orphaned, but rescued wild animals who require longterm
care usually must spend the rest of their lives in captivity.
–Debra J. White

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