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Days-old sea lion pup born at SeaWorld San Diego dies

"Little Gem" was born on Wednesday
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Posted at 10:20 AM, Apr 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-29 15:12:42-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -  A sea lion pup born this week at SeaWorld San Diego has died.

The pup, known by SeaWorld staff as "Little Gem," died Friday night, according to the park. The sea lion pup was born at the park after her mother was rescued by SeaWorld in Oceanside on Tuesday. The mother sea lion was suffering from symptoms of domoic acid toxicity.

"It is with deep sadness that we report that the California sea lion pup, known as Little Gem, born at SeaWorld San Diego shortly after we rescued her sickly mother on April 25, has passed away," the park said in a statement. "While the prematurely born pup appeared relatively healthy in the days immediately following her birth, we knew that her long-term survival was tenuous at best."

RELATED: SeaWorld rescues sick sea lion, now caring for newborn sea pup

Domoic acid is produced by algae and accumulates in shellfish. Sea lions, otters, and even humans can become sick after ingesting contaminated the shellfish. Little Gem's mother is continuing her recovery with the SeaWorld Rescue Team.

Little Gem was born prematurely but in relatively good heath, according to park officials. The staff even filmed a Facebook Live session showing the newborn and explaining the line of care planned following her birth. (Video of that can be seen below.)

"Even faced with challenging odds, our veterinarians and animal care team poured their hearts into Little Gem, passionately providing her with around-the-clock care with the hope that she would be reunited with her mother," the park continued.

A cause of death has not been determined at this time. The park said it plans to perform a necropsy on the sea lion pup to establish a cause.

"Although she was with us for only a few days, Little Gem genuinely touched the lives of our entire animal care and veterinary team," the park said.

See SeaWorld's full statement issued Saturday:

"It is with deep sadness that we report that the California sea lion pup, known as Little Gem, born at SeaWorld San Diego shortly after we rescued her sickly mother on April 25, has passed away.  While the prematurely born pup appeared relatively healthy in the days immediately following her birth, we knew that her long-term survival was tenuous at best.  

Even faced with challenging odds, our veterinarians and animal care team poured their hearts into Little Gem, passionately providing her with around-the-clock care with the hope that she would be reunited with her mother. The pup passed away on Friday evening, April 28. A necropsy will be conducted which may establish the cause of her death.  

Although she was with us for only a few days, Little Gem genuinely touched the lives of our entire animal care and veterinary team. We also want to thank the thousands of people who sent their positive wishes to Little Gem. Her mother continues to slowly recover in our Animal Rescue Center."

Mark Saunders is a KGTV digital producer. Follow him on Twitter at @10NewsSaunders.