A sea lion from Napier’s Marineland died because he mistook a stone for something edible.
Rufus, a Californian sea lion, died on his way to see a vet in Palmerston North last month.
He was unwell before his death and was just short of his 8th birthday.
Marineland’s veterinary consultant Dr Michael Lintott Rufus died from complications caused by ingestion and lodgement of a stone.
The stone passed through Rufus’ small intestine but caused an obstruction when it came to the junction with the large intestine.
Dr Lintott said the obstruction caused Rufus to become unwell quickly. He showed signs of nausea, vomiting and pain.
A second Sea Lion, named Makea, died last Friday while being examined by a team of vets.
Marineland's vets had been monitoring Makea but because the 22-year-old sea lion was uninterested in his food it was difficult to medicate him.
Napier City Council tourism services manager Neil Fergus said the animal was placed under general anaesthetic for an assessment, but did not recover from the procedure.
The results of an autopsy were expected in the coming weeks.
There are now nine seals and sea lions remaining at the closed Marineland.
Last year the High Court upheld the council's decision to close the attraction, which shut in April 2009. The council and the Department of Conservation are still deciding what to do with the remaining animals.
The remaining Marineland animals are:
Two California Sea Lions: Orion, 15 and Dakota, 8.
Six New Zealand Fur Seals: Bart, 16, Molly, 12, Mr Bo. Jangles, 9, Pania, 7, Ollie, 6 and Iha, 4.
One Sub Antarctic Fur Seal: Mako, 6.
- © Fairfax NZ News