SAN FRANCISCO

Marine Mammal Center Releases Three Sea Lions (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

12/12/2011 07:44 pm ET

Call it a holiday miracle.

This fall, three young, male sea lions were rushed to the Marine Mammal Center with severe bacterial infections. And last week, all three were released back into the ocean, as healthy as ever.

(SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTOS AND VIDEOS)

"We've rescued over 530 marine mammal patients [this year]," said Marine Mammal Center Executive Director Dr. Jeff Boehm. "It's been a busy year! Today's release is what we all work towards."

All three sea lions -- Leopico, Teahupoo and Cranberry Sauce -- suffered from leptospirosis, a fatal bacterial infection that causes renal failure. The center has treated 187 cases this year alone. In August, Marine Mammal Center celebrated rescued sea lion number 10,000 in the organization's history -- a major milestone.

"There's always some attachment. There's always some animal that captures your heart," said Shelbi Stoudt, the center staffer who organizes these regular releases, to The Huffington Post when the milestone was reached. "It's a bittersweet feeling because you're sending them back home but you also don't get to see them anymore."

Check out photos of the release, courtesy of Mike Adaskaveg of the Marine Mammal Center, below. Then watch a video of the release by the Marine Mammal Center.

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