The Smithsonian National Zoo is mourning the loss of one of its most famous residents. Luke, a male harbor seal, was euthanized Saturday. He had been suffering from a chronic ear infection and high ocular pressure, according to a statement from the zoo.
Trainers and keepers described Luke as a laid-back and docile seal that enjoyed exploring and training. He was often used by trainers to teach younger members of the the seal population proper behavior as they are medically examined.
Luke was born on June 17, 1984 at the New York Aquarium in Brooklyn, New York. He moved to Washington, D.C., in 2011.
At the age of 35, zookeepers considered Luke to be geriatric. He was five years older than the average lifespan for a harbor seal. Zookeepers began to notice that he was having difficulty orienting himself in his habitat and his once hearty appetite had deteriorated. He also showed little interest in training and socializing with other seals.
After countless treatments for ear infections and eye problems and a declining quality of life, veterinarians decided to Euthanize the seal.
Visitors to the National Zoo can still see Luke’s habitat-mate Rabbit, a 13-year-old male harbor seal, along with a colony of gray seals.