After undergoing four months of rehabilitation at Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration’s Seal Rescue Clinic, a rescued male harp seal was transported to his new, permanent home at the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak, Mich., today. The aquarium coordinated closely with the National Marine Fisheries Service to place the seal in its new home. The seal is blind in both eyes and has been deemed non-releasable. “We are very pleased that the Detroit Zoo is able to provide a home for this seal,” said Janelle Schuh, stranding coordinator at Mystic Aquarium. “The zoo not only had an interest in housing him, but it also has high standards of animal care and will educate the public about this species." The male harp seal was originally observed at Town Landing in Cummaquid, Mass., on August 20. After monitoring the animal closely, the International Fund for Animal Welfare rescued it on August 21, noting the animal had become less alert and responsive than the prior day. The seal was transferred to Mystic the same day. Upon admission to the Seal Rescue Clinic, radiographs revealed numerous rocks in his stomach. The seal also showed signs of alopecia, or baldness, and vertical nystagmus (eyes shifting vertically), a condition common to blind animals. After an ocular exam, the seal was diagnosed as blind from birth. The blindness is caused by a developmental disorder for which no treatment is available. During his time at the Seal Rescue Clinic, the seal was treated with general antibiotics and stomach and parasite medications. In addition, a team consisting of rescue clinic staff, aquarium veterinarians and Westerly Hospital gastroenterologists performed an endoscopy to remove the rocks on October 6. The seal has recovered well, and routine blood work results have been normal. Seal Rescue Clinic staff believe the seal is now almost one year old, based on his size when he arrived in Mystic. “We’re happy we can provide a home for this seal, who can’t be returned to his natural habitat,” said Scott Carter, the Detroit Zoo’s chief life sciences officer. “He’ll join our single harp seal and other seals at the ‘Arctic Ring of Life’, where he’ll have plenty of room to swim.” The “Arctic Ring of Life” encompasses more than four acres of outdoor and indoor habitats, making it North America’s largest polar bear and seal exhibit.