SeaWorld rescuers apply ointment to an injured seal. Photo courtesy of SeaWorld San Diego

SeaWorld’s animal rescue team released 11 sea lions and seals into the ocean Thursday after rehabilitating them at the theme park’s Animal Health and Rescue Center.

The team rescued 10 young California sea lions, found as malnourished and dehydrated pups, from beaches around the county in recent months. The team also rescued an orphaned harbor seal from a beach in La Jolla. All 11 animals were treated with antibiotics and vitamins during their rehabilitation period at the theme park.

“The goal of SeaWorld’s Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Program is to return rescued, nursed-back-to-health animals to the wild for a second chance at life,” according to a SeaWorld statement. “Nearly 70 percent of the marine mammals rescued by the park are returned to the wild.”

The park’s rescue team has rescued and rehabilitated 336 marine mammals this year, according to SeaWorld, many of them California sea lions and various species of seals. The team has also rescued and rehabilitated more than 200 injured or malnourished birds.

Overall, the team has saved and rehabilitated more than 20,000 animals since the park’s founding in 1964. The theme park chain’s three locations in San Diego, Orlando and San Antonio have rescued more than 34,000 animals combined.

— City News Service

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