Vallejo: A veteran trainer was bitten by a sea lion at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, but was basically uninjured, a company spokeswoman said.
The trainer suffered a "nip" to the leg from a 10-year-old male sea lion around 3 p.m. Friday afternoon.
Park spokeswoman Nancy Chan called the episode a "non-event," and said officials would have nothing more to say on the subject.
Earlier this year, Toni Rael, senior marine mammal trainer for the park, said the facility had nine permanent adult sea lions, ranging from about 200 pounds for the females and 300 to 400 for the males. In the May story, about the rescue of several stranded sea lions, two of which stayed at Discovery Kingdom, Rael said she worked regularly with male sea lions, though it's not known if she's the trainer that was bitten.
The name of the animal involved also was not revealed, though it's been reported that he came to the park from another facility four years ago. Chan wouldn't say if this particular sea lion is one of the park's performing specimens.
The trainer was treated by paramedics at the park before being taken to a local hospital for further treatment and evaluation, received a tetanus shot, an antibiotic ointment and a Band-Aid before being released, Chan said.
U.C. Santa Cruz Institute of Marine Sciences marine biologist, Colleen Reichmuth, said sea lions are generally safe to work with in captivity and that serious injuries from bites are rare, though minor bites are not.
"Sea lions are large carnivores and they often are highly trained in captivity, but are still wild animals and must be handled carefully," said Reichmuth, who said she does occasional walrus research at Discovery Kingdom. "Minor bites are not that unusual. There are typically training and safeguards that help prevent them, but they do happen occasionally and they usually are not serious."
Reichmuth, who says she's worked with captive sea mammals for 20 years, said that since sea lions have no chewing teeth, bites don't often cause much damage, because "they don't bite down -- they tend to sort of punch with the mouth open."
Contact staff writer Rachel Raskin-Zrihen at (707) 553-6824 or rzrihen@timesherald
online.com. Follow her on Twitter @Rachelvth.
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