2006_04_29_sealion.jpg

The oldest known female sea lion in captivity, Breezy the Sea Lion, was quietly euthanized yesterday.

Breezy, who lived in the New York Aquarium at Coney Island from 1972 until 1990, spent the past sixteen years hanging out in the Central Park Zoo.

When living in Coney Island Breezy got a reputation for her outgoing personality: "She Was feisty in her youth! She wasn't the biggest sea lion in the exhibit, but she seemed to run the show." One Zoo official said.

Not that she wasn't popular in Central Park as well.

"She had a following with the senior citizens," said Bruce Foster, collection manager of the zoo's animal department.

But she was also mindful of the young. When a clingy pup named Phoenix had to be forcibly weaned from his mother, Breezy took to comforting him. And her easygoing disposition made her a good mentor to new zookeepers.

"Breezy became the sea lion who trained the keepers," Foster said. "She broke them in right, let them made mistakes and never took advantage of their naivety."

However, over the past few years Breezy's health began to noticeably decline starting with the loss of her eyesight. "Breezy's gentle nature and incredible spirit touched everyone she came into contact with," an assistant curator at the zoo said in a statement. "She truly was an amazing animal and her loss will be felt by all."

Breezy was 35.

Central Park Sea Lion, not necessarily Breezy, from Sherilyns flickr stream.