“They are inseparable,” she said. “We will miss their antics, but are happy they are doing so well and can return home.”
The pups were rescued in Huntington Beach, just 10 days apart, after lifeguards reported them to authorities.
“Alto had climbed up a lifeguard tower and was found sleeping there,” Hunter said.
Both sea lions were 5 months old at the time of rescue, and were in poor health.
Makia was malnourished at only 30 pounds, and suffered from coughing and nasal discharge. After two weeks of antibiotics and tube feedings, Hunter said he was well enough to eat on his own.
Alto was also undernourished, and had an infection in his right eye, which caretakers treated with medication. It was only a week before he developed a healthy appetite and opted for fishy delicacies over tube-fed smoothies.
Hunter said the pups, who just happened to be placed inside the same pen, immediately became buddies.
“They would suckle on each other, and each would holler for the other when one was taken away [for feedings or weigh-ins],” she said.
Since their initial bond, she said, they must always maintain some form of contact.
“When one is tired [on the deck] and the other is still playing in the pool, the one on the deck will stick his flipper in the water while the other continues to play,” she said.
Hunter said the sea lions were named after their sponsors. Alto’s sponsor, Greg Altomari, also has a special story.