Years after I left the Philadelphia Zoo, I noticed that both Lilli and Sushi had been sent to the Audobon Zoo in New Orleans, following the (fortunate) closure of the Philadelphia Zoo sea lion exhibit. I wasn't able to get down to the Zoo to visit them until April 2000.
What a thrill it was to see them both alive and doing well! I managed to pick out Lilli from the other four sea lions in the exhibit. She was a light-colored, vocal sea lion pup at Philadelphia. As an adult, she retained her light coloring, and was the most vocal of the five sea lions in the New Orleans exhibit!
Trainer Suzanne Smith greeted us, and took us behind the scenes to see
both Lilli and Sushi.
Suzanne Smith works with Lilli out in the exhibit. Yes, that's
Lilli's mouth open again; come to think of it, I don't have a single photo
of Lilli at New Orleans with her mouth closed. Speaking of:
Here's Lilli on one of the backstage training seats. The sea lions
at New Orleans are trained in behaviors to assist veterinary examinations,
and what you're looking at here is a mouth-open-and-hold behavior for oral
examination. Suzanne pointed out that Lilli had lost a canine
tooth in a fight with another sea lion some years ago--obviously a more
serious version of the play-fighting I photographed in Philadelphia in
On to Sushi........