Popular sealion Orry brought joy to thousands as a super showman who loved to pose for pictures – but now staff and visitors are mourning the loss of the much-loved animal.
The 22-year-old Patagonian sealion died on Wednesday.
The cause of his death is not yet known but he was receiving veterinary treatment for 10 days before he died.
Hundreds of tributes has now been made on the zoo's Facebook page by visitors shocked to learn of his death.
Orry, who weighed in at 405kg, was given a home at the zoo after being rescued from ending up at a fair in Belgium, aged only two.
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He was born at Curraghs Wildlife Park on the Isle of Man, but was then sold on to a dealer who re-sold him to a travelling circus on the continent.
He was viewed fondly by visitors who Orry would greet with a lively roar.
Today, Jill Hitchman, spokesman for the zoo, said: "Everyone at Dudley Zoological Gardens has been saddened by the death of Patagonian sealion, Orry.
"But we were totally unprepared for the Facebook posts we received .
"We have had more than 300 tributes to the aquatic heavyweight who touched visitors' hearts and attracted adopters by the dozen.
"The many special messages have prompted more than a few tears from the team. He will be missed by all.
"Thank you to all our visitors for their kind words."
Tributes have poured in on Facebook and Twitter, including from Laura Whitehouse, who shared a memory from a school trip in 2006.
"As my group were heading to the cafe, Orry popped up and roared, scaring some of the boys, and it was just the funniest thing.
"He always seemed to pose for the camera too," she said.
Others posted to say they were heartbroken by the news. Natalie Woodruff said: "It's so sad that he has passed away.
"He was such a character.
"I remember his roar greeting to everyone."
The animal swam in moat pools which are surrounded by adoption plaques of people supporting the conservation work done for the species.
A post-mortem will be carried out.