Because the extent of his injuries would prevent Sgt. Nevis from diving deeply to forage -- and because he would most likely return to areas where he could be shot again -- veterinarians knew he would not live long in the wild.
The first-ever reconstructive surgery to repair a sea lion's muzzle is happening today in Vallejo.
The patient is Sgt. Nevis, a 650-pound sea lion that was discovered in November with gunshot wounds to his face. The sea lion eluded rescuers along areas of the Sacramento River several times before he was captured.
Sgt. Nevis, named after Michael Nevis, an officer with the Yolo County Sheriff's Department's animal services section who helped the Marine Mammal Center rescue the sea lion, has been living at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom since May. He was taken there because his injuries were so severe, he would not have been able to forage for food in the wild.
The tough animal was initially taken to Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito after he was rescued -- he weighed just 350 pounds when he arrived. The deep bullet wounds on either side of his nose were flushed, and he was given antibiotics and nourished, center spokesman Jim Oswald said.
Marine mammal veterinarians and a surgeon who performs plastic surgery on humans will be performing the surgery, which is expected to last a couple hours. Within a few hours after surgery, Sgt. Nevis will return to Sea Lion Cove, Oswald told Bay City News.
A fisherman from North Highlands resident pleaded not guilty to animal cruelty on Oct. 19 in connection with the shooting.