VALLEJO, Calif. — The adolescent patient turned sullen and withdrawn. He hadn’t eaten in 13 days. Treatment with steroids, phenobarbital and Valium failed to curb the symptoms of his epilepsy. Then, on Sept. 18, he had a terrible seizure — violently jerking his flippers and turning unconscious in the water.
Cronutt, a 7-year-old sea lion, had to be rescued so he didn’t drown. His veterinarian and the caretakers at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom began discussing whether it was time for palliative care.
“We’d tried everything,” said Dr. Claire Simeone, Cronutt’s longtime vet. “We needed more extreme measures.”
On Tuesday morning, Cronutt underwent groundbreaking brain surgery aimed at reversing the epilepsy.
If successful, the treatment could save increasing numbers of sea lions and sea otters from succumbing to a new plague of epilepsy. The cause is climate change.
As oceans warm, algae blooms have become more widespread, creating toxins that get