US Navy seal (the flippered kind) dies in Washington zoo

Posted at 06/27/12 10:35 AM

WASHINGTON - Gunnar, an authentic former US Navy seal whose many talents included using a screwdriver under water, has died at the age of 38, the National Zoo in Washington said Tuesday.

Born in Iceland in November 1973, gray seal Gunnar was specially trained to carry out deep-sea tasks during the Cold War, such as diving as far down as 475 feet (145 meters) to recover items from the ocean floor.

"In his career as a navy seal, Gunnar learned how to insert and remove equipment, use a screwdriver and turn a large wheel valve," said the zoo in a statement, playing a pun on the US Navy's storied SEAL commando units.

He arrived at the National Zoo in January 1979 from the Naval Oceans Systems Center in San Diego, California, where he sired two female pups that now live in a New Jersey aquarium.

A human SEAL team carried out the successful May 2011 mission to kill Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.

© 1994-2012 Agence France-Presse