Autistic teen makes special friends at the Buffalo Zoo

Posted at 6:30 PM, Oct 06, 2016

A local mother recently captured a heartwarming moment between her non-verbal autistic son and the new baby sea lions at the Buffalo Zoo.

Amherst resident Christine Rodriguez said her son, 17-year-old Travis Rodriguez found a connection with the pair of sea lions, known as Pokey and Jessie, during a recent trip to the zoo.

Rodriguez said Travis can struggle with social skills and interactions, but with Pokey and Jesse, he made eye contact and began to play with his new "friends."

She said this was the first time she'd seen Travis behave that way, and she believes the moment will be inspiring for others who may be struggling with adversity in their lives.

Pokey and Jesse, both 2-year-old females, came to the Buffalo Zoo in July. They were rescued off the coast of California in 2015 where sea lion pups are often found stranded, orphaned by their mothers who had to move further and further away from the sea lion colonies in order to find food.

Pokey and Jessie joined long-time resident Dallas in the Sea Lion Cove exhibit.