Roly Poly the seal dies at Woodland Park Zoo due to thoughtless zoo goers on June 4, 1947.

  • By Alan J. Stein
  • Posted 3/27/2001
  • Essay 3136
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On June 4, 1947, Roly Poly the seal dies at Woodland Park Zoo. An autopsy is performed, and handfuls of metal objects are found inside the seal's stomach. The items had been thrown by rude visitors to see if the seal would eat them. Sadly, he did.

After examination of the grisly contents, zoo curator Dr. Gus Knudson reported them to the press in the hopes of stopping some visitors' cruel practice of tossing items into the animal habitats for "fun."

Found in Roly Poly's stomach were more than 100 copper pennies; three nickels; 84 aluminum, plastic, and brass tax tokens; one brass lapel insignia of the army's Second Infantry Division; two tiny pieces of steel; and a collection of metal washers and buttons.

The cause of death was determined to be caused by aluminum poisoning from the tax tokens, although the handfuls of metal in the seal's stomach surely exacerbated Roly Poly's condition.

The death of Roly Poly came after the recent death of 16 bald eagles. The eagles had eaten wire staples thrown at them by other callous and heartless individuals.


"Thoughtless Public's 'Gifts' Kill Zoo Seal," Seattle Post-Intelligencer June 5, 1947, p. 1.

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