R.I.P. Astro, the Houston Zoo's Favorite Sea Lion

Farewell Astro, 2008-2012.
Farewell Astro, 2008-2012.
Photo courtesy of the Houston Zoo

Astro, the sea lion who's been a Houston Zoo favorite ever since he arrived here off the injured-reserve list in 2009, has died, officials say.

The four-year-old had been suffering from a severe case of gastroenteritis, but it will be weeks before tests determine the cause of death.

"The Zoo's sea lion and veterinary teams had been working very hard over the last few days to provide supportive care and therapy for Astro, but despite their best efforts, that battle was lost last night," zoo officials said in the death announcement.

Astro came to the zoo with a neck injury thought to have been caused by "becoming entangled in marine debris, possibly a carelessly discarded fishing net or fishing line."

Astro's video welcoming him to Houston back in the day:

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