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Days-old sea lion pup born at SeaWorld dies

SAN DIEGO -- Little Gem, a California sea lion pup born Wednesday at SeaWorld San Diego after her sickly mother was rescued the day before, has died, according to SeaWorld officials.

"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," spokesman David Koontz said. "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 Friday evening. A necropsy will be conducted in an effort to 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," Koontz said. "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."

The mother was picked up Tuesday after displaying signs of domoic acid poisoning. The acid is produced by algae and accumulates in shellfish, sardines and anchovies that are then eaten by sea lions, otters, cetaceans and humans, among others, affecting their brains, according to the Marine Mammal Center.