Wounded sea lion becoming zoo's newest star

Ray the sea lion was rescued from California.
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An incredible survival story is playing out in Indianapolis and you'll be able to see the main character for the first time Thursday.

The Indianapolis Zoo has a new member in town and he has beaten incredible odds to get here.

Ray the sea lion has only been at the zoo a month, but now that everyone can see him, he has a lot to say, barking for several minutes at a time as he frolics in the sea lion exhibit.

"It's just who he is," explained one of Ray's trainers, Mandy Goin.

The people familiar with Ray's story would like to think he's voicing his appreciation after where's he's been.

"I think it's a combination. He's thrilled to be here and just that 'I'm here, I want to everybody to know it'," said the zoo's Tom Granberry, explaining what he thinks Ray may be expressing with his loud barks.

"He follows everybody. He's kind of, like, 'Hey, here I am? Come look at me!' So he's definitely happy," said Goin.

Who can blame him? At just five years old, Ray's been through a lot.

The folks at the zoo say before coming to Indianapolis, Ray was rescued twice after beaching himself to die near Sausalito, California. Each time, Ray's rescuers discovered he'd been shot, probably by fisherman. The second time he was rescued, Ray ultimately lost his right eye.

"Just like a person who, you know, has a disadvantage. He'll compensate," said Granberry.

His trainers say Ray already has been learning his way around.

"The exhibit has some underwater caves that he has to swim through. He's navigated all of those fine and he gets up on the ground really well. He's doing good," Granberry said.

Ray's got a lot to look forward to in the next year. He's one of the zoo's most eligible bachelors. The next step for the folks here will be to find him a female to mate with next July.

"We'll get him a girlfriend or two and then we'll have some little sea lions swimming around," laughed Granberry.

Jokes aside, zoo officials said Ray is quite a specimen because of where he comes from.

"His genetics are from the wild, so that means he's very valuable in that respect. So finding a good suitable girlfriend would be a good thing," said Granberry.

For now, Ray's just been getting used to his new home, his new roommates, and his new fans.