The beloved harbor seal and resident artist passed away at the age of 29.

Piper arrived at the Virginia Aquarium in 1996 and quickly became one of its most charming inhabitants. He loved to swim, playfully splash his visitors, and lounge around but was perhaps best known for his paintings and friendly nature.

harbor seal

Harbor seals are actually quite a common sight along the North American and European coastlines. Adults can range from 180 to 285 pounds. Out in the wild, they can live to be about 25 years old, and Piper's advanced age seemed to be the main cause of his death. Zoo workers and veterinarians noticed he seemed to be slowing down in the weeks leading up to his peaceful passing on February 4.

“This news is devasting, especially for our mammal team and our veterinary staff. They work tirelessly to provide outstanding care for our animals, and I know they appreciate your support and understanding during this difficult time. We will all miss Piper," said Cynthia Whitbred-Spanoulis, Executive Director of the Virginia Aquarium.

To read more about Piper, take a look at the official press release.

harbor seal

If you would like to visit the Virginia Aquarium, it is currently open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with limited capacity. Admission is coordinated with timed entry tickets for all guests over the age of 5. Social distancing measures are in place and face coverings are required during your visit.

Feel like getting out on the water with aquarium staff? They even have a 2.5-hour whale-watching boat tour! Click here to access the aquarium's official website. If you can't make it in person, check out their YouTube page for videos and riveting content.

*Photos courtesy of the Virginia Aquarium (Facebook)

Are you a big fan of Piper and his artwork? Do you have great memories of visiting him at the Virginia Aquarium? Share them with us in the comments.