In a heartwarming story reported by The San Diego Union-Tribute, a sea lion that somehow made it from the ocean to a highway interchange was rescued yesterday morning by the folks at SeaWorld San Diego.

What’s Happening:

  • A SeaWorld spokesperson noted that “this specific sea lion has been rescued by SeaWorld’s Rescue team before and has a track record of wandering into odd places.”
  • The animal has previously shown up in other spots somewhat removed from its natural habitat, including near the San Diego International Airport and the Navy Base in Point Loma, though none quite as far from the water as where it was found Friday.
  • Traffic slowed while passers-by helped the animal cross to the center divide on SR-94, east of where the highway crosses over Home Avenue, according to CHP’s online logs and CHP Officer Jim Bettencourt.

What They’re Saying:

  • Jeni Smith, a supervisor with the rescue program at SeaWorld San Diego, acknowledged that it is unusual to find a sea lion so far from the ocean.
  • “We got in our truck immediately and rushed down to ensure that the sea lion, obviously, wasn’t hit by a car,” Smith said at the scene. “Being on the freeway is very, very unsafe for a sea lion.”
  • “I have no idea how that animal got all the way up the freeway on the 94, this far east,” she said, noting that it took the rescue team about 15-20 minutes to drive from SeaWorld to the spot where the sea lion was found. “I don’t know how it traveled there.”
  • Tracy Spahr, a spokesperson for SeaWorld, said: “In the beginning of November, this sea lion was rescued from Harbor Island Drive near the airport. After about a week of care, the animal was deemed ready and was returned. In December, the same sea lion was seen right along the boardwalk in Mission Beach, near a deli in Mission Bay and on the Navy Base in Point Loma.”
  • “SeaWorld’s veterinarians will continue to assess the animal and give it the rehabilitation it needs.”