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Federal complaint filed against IMMS after sea lion died while under anesthesia



Dr. Robert Gibbens
Director, Animal Welfare Operations, USDA-APHIS
[email protected] 
[email protected] 

Please levy the MAXIMUM FINE against the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies for their blatant disregard of the Animal Welfare Act when their negligence allowed a sea lion to die. Their behavior should NOT be tolerated and MUST be punished to the fullest extent of the law.


Federal complaint filed against IMMS after sea lion died while under anesthesia

From Janae Jordan,, June 9, 2022

A national watchdog group filed a federal complaint against Gulfport’s Institute for Marine Mammal Studies after a sea lion’s death.

According to the complaint, on March 5th, 2020, Jester, a six-year-old sea lion, underwent surgery on his left eye to remove a lesion and died while under anesthesia.

On March 11th, 2021, IMMS received a critical violation inspection from the USDA relevant to water quality issues stated that four of the five sea lions at IMMS had eye issues, all likely caused by the use of too much chlorine in the water.

According to the complaint from ‘Stop Animal Exploitation Now,’ IMMS also was performing research on captive marine mammals without being registered as a research facility.

However, WXXV reached out to IMMS and received documents signed by the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service stating they are able to perform research on their animals. IMMS Director Moby Solangi said, “We deal with a lot of stranded animals that come with a lot of problems. Jester, our sea lion, we were doing surgery to rectify an issue. Unfortunately, it didn’t make it. These animals strand for various reasons, sick and injured. This is what we do. We were giving it a home. Unfortunately, it didn’t survive the surgery. We are in full compliance. They had requested us to look at certain issues and all of them have been taken care of.”

In a recent inspection on March 3rd, 2022, IMMS was said to have no issues with chlorine levels and is in compliance.

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