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How Valentine the Sea Lion Survived a Gun Shot Wound

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Last Saturday SeaWorld's hotline was ringing off the hook with the news that a sea lion had been shot.

Rescuers found a sea lion on a beach in Oceanside—that they named Valentine because of the the upcoming holiday—who was dehydrated, malnourished and with a gunshot wound. A bullet had traveled all the way up her flipper and gotten lodged in her shoulder blade, according to Fox 5 News in San Diego.

"When we got to the beach, this animal had a laceration on her flipper about eight inches long and four inches wide," Jody Westberg, a stranded animal coordinator at SeaWorld told Fox. "It was open and you could see the bones, the muscles and the tendons, so it was a significant wound."

SeaWorld gets called to scenes like this regularly even though harming a marine mammal is against federal law: every year they get calls about 12 to 15 marine mammals with gunshot wounds. Fortunately, Valentine was able to hang on, and make it through surgery to remove the bullet from her shoulder. She should be fully healed in a few weeks. She even got this adorable cast that we want to sign:

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"Valentine is a fighter. She's got the attitude of a survivor," Westberg said. "And the reward for us will be the rehabilitation and the return to the wild."