Bart with keeper

Louisville Zoo Says Goodbye to Beloved California Sea Lion Bart (Media Release)

CONTACT: Kyle Shepherd
502-238-5331 (Media Cell 502-744-5639)

The Louisville Zoo staff is saddened by the recent death of male California sea lion Bart.

Bart was the 2nd California sea lion to be born at the Louisville Zoo in its 52-year history. He was 28 years old and had only spent 3.5 years of his life at the Birmingham Zoo while the Louisville Zoo’s award-winning Glacier Run pinniped habitat was under construction. Guests were excited to see him return in 2010 when the first phase of Glacier Run opened.

“Bart was a favorite amongst guests because of his large stature and beloved amongst staff because of his even larger personality,” said Executive Director Dan Maloney. “It is never easy to say goodbye to any animal ambassador. We will miss how Bart blew raspberries at the crowds as well as soaking some “lucky” guests during pinniped training sessions.”

The public can watch a video of the Glacier Run care team sharing their memories of Bart at

Bart shared the Glacier Run exhibit and pinniped pool in rotation with California sea lions Gremlin and Riva; harbor seals Tonie and Oscar; and gray seals Boone, Finsbay, Minnow and Rona.

The median life expectancy for a California sea lion in a managed system is 23.3 years.

California sea lions are considered sentinel species, helping to indicate ocean health. Although the Marine Mammal Protection Act has afforded protections that have allowed California sea lions to rebound, they still face challenges in the remnant wild. Entanglement in fishing gear and human-caused injuries are a threat to the species. Also, the increase of biotoxins in their bodies due to harmful algal blooms have led to illness, deaths, and the abandonment of pups.

The Zoo is open daily year-round. Fall/winter hours continue through March 20, 2022, 10 a.m. ─ 4 p.m. (stay until 5 p.m.). The Zoo is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.


The Louisville Zoo, a non-profit organization and state Zoo of Kentucky, is dedicated to bettering the bond between people and our planet by providing excellent care for animals, a great visitor experience, and leadership in scientific research and conservation education. The Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).