National Epilepsy Week | What Cronutt the Sea Lion can Teach your Child about Curiosity and Kindness
Introducing Cronutt the Sea Lion
Cronutt is a 7-year-old sea lion who suffers from severe Epilepsy. This is a result of poisoning from toxic algae in the sea off the West Coast of America. Unfortunately Cronutt’s experience is not singular; a rapidly increasing amount of marine mammals are at risk of developing Epilepsy as a result of climate change. The warming of the world’s oceans facilitates algal blooms flourishing; the consumption of this poisonous algae results in brain damage and Epileptic seizures.
After months of suffering and increasingly regular, severe seizures, Cronutt’s chief carers at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom were running out of options to help save the sea lion.
“We’d tried everything,” said Dr. Claire Simeone, Cronutt’s vet. “We needed more extreme measures.”
UCSF | Pioneering Epilepsy Surgery
Thanks to UC San Francisco (UCSF) and support from his careers at Six Flags, Cronutt received pioneering care to reverse his Epilepsy. In October 2020, a specialist team performed surgery that involved the injection of brain cell precursors into Cronutt’s hippocampus. This is the part of the brain that is responsible for seizures. The surgery was anticipated to repair the brain circuitry responsible for these fits.
This was the first surgery of its kind and his carers reported that Cronutt recovered well following the procedure. UCSF postdoctoral researcher Mariana Casalia claimed, “I’ve always wanted to apply what we are doing in the lab to the clinical setting”. She continued, “for me the ability to do this in reality to help these animals who are suffering is a dream come true.”
Cronutt’s case throws light on the responsibility we have as humans to look after our planet and care for all of the creatures that inhibit it. This National Epilepsy Week, Banjo wants to shed light on this topic. In this week’s Weekly Meow, Banjo speaks to his penpals about the importance of inclusion of and empathy for children (and animals) who have health conditions such as Epilepsy.
Download a Special Letter from Banjo!
Download a special letter from Banjo here, reflecting on a recent conversation he had with Cronutt. You can use this as a jumping off point for this important conversation. Enjoy this resource? Sign up to receive our Weekly Meow children’s newsletter here – free printable activities, straight to your inbox every week!
Other links to support and learn more about Epilepsy: