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Taronga's much-loved Leopard Seal 'Brooke' passed away yesterday evening after a brief illness.

'Brooke' came to the zoo in 1999 after being found on Garie Beach in the Royal National Park drastically underweight, dehydrated and suffering from shark attack injuries.

Zoo veterinarians and keepers saved her life, nursing her back to health and she has been a tremendously popular animal with staff and visitors alike.

Veterinarians and keepers had been keeping a close watch on her health in recent days after she went off her food and was less active than usual. Initial indications suggest that she may have succumbed to an infection, however results of a post mortem will not be known for some weeks.

Because she was a rescued seal it is not known exactly how old Brooke was, but she was believed to have been about 10 years old, achieving a comparable life-span to other Leopard Seals previously cared for by Taronga.

During her time at Taronga she has been a great ambassador for her species and played a major role in helping the Australian Marine Mammals Research Centre learn more about this solitary Antarctic predator. Brooke participated in ground-breaking research to determine if Leopard Seals use echolocation or make sounds inaudible to the human ear to navigate and detect objects located in their environment.

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