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Bunni, the Elephant Sea Lion, Returns Home ... Reluctantly

The Pacific Marine Mammal Center returned the adopted sea mammal to its habitat last Saturday, but not everything went according to plan.

Apparently Bunni wasn’t as enthusiastic about leaving her life of luxury and returning to the waters off Laguna Beach than you would have expected, or after writing this exclusive Patch story in June as she was being nursed back to health.

After nearly 90 minutes of coaxing and traveling to two different coves, Bunni the rescued elephant sea lion finally made her way out into the ocean off Fisherman’s Cove on an overcast morning early last Saturday, thanks to the persistent efforts of the staff at the in Laguna Beach.

“It was worth the effort,” said a soaked Dean Gomersall, animal control supervisor at PMMC and the one primarily responsible for getting Bunni to finally turn away from shore, past the breaking waves and into rocks that surround the cove that lead out to sea.

On hand at Crescent Bay for Bunni’s return to the ocean, along with two other elephant sea lions, were members of Girl Scout Daisy Troop 2421 from Mission Viejo, which co-sponsored the rehabilitation efforts of the PMMC for the past three months.

in Newport Beach on March 22 and was taken to the marine center weighing only 77 pounds and measuring 53 inches long. She was extremely malnourished, severely dehydrated and suffered from hypothermia.

Over the next several months Bunni was nursed back to health, first with formulas consisting of an electrolyte solution, vitamins and supplements, then with subcutaneous (under the skin) fluids. By early May she had gained about 55 pounds and was eating 9½ pounds of fish a day, and by early June she weighed 166 pounds and was eating 12 pounds of fish a day.

On June 16, the day of her release, Bunni weighed 207 pounds.

The three elephant sea lions drew a crowd of about 75 co-sponsors as they were transported by pick-ups from the PMMC to Crescent Bay.

When they were released from their cages the largest of the sea lions steadily made its way to the water and swam off. For Bunni, though, it took a trip to Fisherman’s before finally saying “Goodbye, and thanks.”

Good luck, Bunni.

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