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A healthy young sea lion makes its way to the ocean after being cared for by the California Wildlife Center.

It couldn’t have been a nicer day at King Gillette Ranch to celebrate local wildlife. The California Wildlife Center comes to the aid of all creatures big and small from the largest marine mammals to tiny baby hummingbirds and on Saturday, May 4, the center held “Feathers, Flippers & Fur Picnic.” The event helped raise money to save the precious critters that let us share their space.

The brilliant super blooms were all around as were the Monarch butterflies and the leafy trees providing just the right amount of shade—It was the perfect setting for a spring picnic. Malibu animal lovers admired the grounds, roaming around with cold beverages, vegetarian mac and cheese, and vegan sammys.

A live band got toes tapping, followed by a DJ spinning appropriate tunes like Cat Stevens’ “Wild World” and Joni Mitchell’s “California.” To keep the kids entertained, there was an awesome magician who made jaws drop with his sleight of hand. There were cool auction items like overflowing pet-friendly baskets, fragrant flower baskets and a wine trip to Ojai. 

It was a real down-home local event with families, kids and their pets having their run of the ranch. The look was Malibu casual with loads of Dodger caps, distressed denim jeans and breezy summer sundresses. The CWC is no newcomer to the area—it’s been a vital lifeline to Malibu and its neighbors for more than 20 years.

Recently, the center’s Marine Mammal Rescue Team led by Mike Remski responded to a call about a small stranded whale on Zuma Beach. The adult Pygmy Sperm was a female and it marked the CWC’s first live whale stranding response. A dedicated team of CWC staff members, with the help of volunteers and lifeguards, moved the big fish from the beach to a special rescue van for further assessment and care.

Once on the examination table and in safe hands, the whale was found to have several superficial wounds and abrasions, possibly due to the rough surf. After a consultation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the top vets at SeaWorld San Diego, the difficult decision was made to humanely euthanize the whale at Zuma.

This is just another example of the hard choices the CWC and related organizations have to make every day.

On the bright side, seal lion pup season is well underway. Armed with a fresh force of volunteers, the center is looking forward to a successful season.

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