Gunnar the seal, a real-life U.S. Navy seal part of the marine mammal program, died on Friday at the age of 38, the Smithsonian National Zoo announced on Tuesday.
The National Zoo said Gunnar, who possessed a stellar talent of using screwdrivers, survived long after the typical lifespan of normal wild gray seals, who have a lifespan of 25 to 30 years maximum. The Zoo said Gunnar was suffering from declining health for several months before he passed on Friday.
Gunnar was a native of Iceland and came to Washington in 1979 from the Naval Oceans System Center in San Diego. Gunnar, at just six-months-old, was trained by Navy researchers to perform underwater tasks as a part of their marine mammal program. He was chosen, along with another seal named Selkie, since gray seals have the ability to dive down to 475 feet and remain underwater for up to 20 minutes,
While serving for the U.S. Navy Seals, Gunnar learned how to insert and remove equipment, use a screwdriver and turn a large wheel valve, according to a statement from the National Zoo.
Thanks to his adept nature, Gunnar was granted a high position as the senior male gray seal.
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Gunnar the seal is survived by two female seals, Kara and Kija, who remain at the Adventure Aquarium in New Jersey, and Selkie.