COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A sea lion regarded as a “beloved member” of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, who greeted millions of guests each year in Adventure Cove, has died.

Bodega, a 27-year-old sea lion, was euthanized after his health rapidly declined, the Columbus Zoo announced in a Facebook post on Thursday. Born in the United States, Bodega spent significant time in China before arriving at the Columbus Zoo in 2020, becoming the first Adventure Cove pinniped habitat resident.

“Bodega was a key part of our sea lion colony, contributing to our educational programs, tours, and presentations,” the zoo said. “His story resonated with countless guests, and he left an indelible mark on all who had the pleasure of meeting him.”

The sea lion faced several health problems — mobility issues in his lower back, cataracts, dental issues — and received cold laser treatment, acupuncture, physical therapy and regular checkups to improve his quality of life. The zoo’s animal health team decided to humanely euthanize Bodega after his health recently took a turn for the worse.

At 27 years old, Bodega exceeded the California sea lions median life expectancy of 23.3 years. Currently, a necropsy is being performed at the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine to understand what caused his decline.

“We will always remember Bodega for the joy he brought, the lessons he taught us, and the love he shared with his human and flippered families,” the zoo said. “Rest in peace, dear Bodega. You will be missed.”