Gaston the Sea Lion - Prague, Czech Republic
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member Anneke
N 50° 06.973 E 014° 24.363
33U E 457536 N 5551721
Quick Description: The statue of sea lion who escaped from the Prague zoo during the 2002 floods, swam to Germany, but died of stress and starvation.
Location: Hlavní město Praha, Czechia
Date Posted: 5/31/2009 12:48:43 PM
Waymark Code: WM6GEK
Published By: Groundspeak Charter Member BruceS
Views: 229

Long Description:
In August 2002, when whole central Europe was suffering from unusually strong floods, low parts of Prague, including the zoological garden, were flooded by the Vltava river. Since the management had originally been told by authorities to expect only mild flood, and only at the last moment had they realized that they needed to evacuate most of the animals, all rescue work was done in great haste and crucial decisions, about which animals to save first, had to be taken. The keepers focused on rescuing non-swimmer animals, such as wild beasts or gorillas, and decided to leave four adult sea lions in their pool, only evacuating a three-month-old Meloun.
Despite the flooding, the sea lions continued swimming around their known territory. The glass barrier of their pool and the artificial rock had disappeared under water, but everything seemed to go well until the morning on August 14. The outlook foot bridge on the east side of the pool broke loose then and barred the sea lions’ way. The scared animals scattered.
The keepers gradually managed to find and recapture the three females, but the only male, Gaston, was still evading his pursuers. Although stressed out by the disappearance of his home and his partners and lack of food, he miraculously got as far as Decin without apparent problems. The staff of the local zoo tried to catch him there, but it is practically impossible to capture a healthy sea lion in the water.
Gaston eventually crossed the border and reached Lutterstadt near Dresden, where he was caught by German rescuers on August 19. Completely exhausted and infected from dirty flood water, he died during the transport back to Prague. The media had covered his 300 km long journey since the beginning and, in this way, Gaston has become a symbolic victim of the floods.

The statue by Veronika Richterova was dedicated on November 16, 2005.
Type of Memorial: statue

Type of Animal: wild animal

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