SAN DIEGO – A sea lion whose adventure went viral after roaming down a California freeway is back in his natural habit thanks to the efforts by a rescue team from SeaWorld.
The team released him and two of his fellow mammals back into the ocean off the Southern California coast on Wednesday.
The infamous sea lion’s most recent stay was not the first time he’d encountered humans in a unique situation.
Back in November, he was found hanging out near the San Diego Airport, and about a month later, he was spotted along Mission Beach and on a nearby navy base.
Despite the sea lion’s recent history, experts with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and SeaWorld both agreed it was in the animal’s best interest to release him back into the ocean.
"Everybody was in agreement that he was in great shape and since he was exhibiting normal sea lion behavior, the decision was made to return him," Eric Otjen, head of SeaWorld San Diego’s Rescue Team, said.
Before the sea lions’ release, veterinarians ensured all the animals were healthy and properly tagged.
"Given this guy’s reputation for getting into unique situations, we’ve put an extra flipper tag on him," Otjen said.
All three mammals were said to be doing great in their new habitat near San Diego.
"It’s really neat when we can get an animal in that needs help, we rehabilitate it, and then we take it back to its natural home and give it a second chance at life. Being able to help those honors is really an honor for the team," Otjen said.
SeaWorld says in the event you find a seal in need of help or in an area they shouldn’t be, call their hotline at 1-800-541-SEAL (7325).