SAUSALITO -- A California sea lion that was found with gunshot wounds at a Live Oak beach is now entertaining visitors at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.

Whirlybird was found listless and unresponsive on a set of stairs leading to the beach at Corcoran Lagoon in July. It was rescued by a team from the Marine Mammal Center.

Veterinarians determined the sea lion was missing an eye and the other was so severely damaged that it left Whirlybird blind. X-rays showed the animal had been shot in the face, and metal fragments were scattered throughout its head.

The extent of Whirlybird's injuries were so severe that experts at the Sausalito-based Marine Mammal Center decided the sea lion couldn't be released back into the wild.

Whirlybird was treated at the center while a new home was sought.

Earlier this month, Whirlybird made its public debut in its new home at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, according to the Marine Mammal Center. There, the sea lion shares a tank with a fellow California sea lion named Tanner.

Center officials don't know why Whirlybird was shot, but such incidents are often the result of run-ins with fishermen trying to protect their catch.

Follow Sentinel reporter Jessica M. Pasko on Twitter at Twitter.com/jmpasko96





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