Hitchhikers can be a pretty common occurrence — when they’re of the human variety, that is. When police in Mendocino County, California received a report of a different species altogether trekking its way down the Pacific Coast Highway last Sunday morning, they had no idea what to expect.
Turns out a happy-go-lucky sea lion pup had managed to migrate a quarter of a mile away from the Pacific Ocean and take a walk down the side of the road, with no concern whatsoever about the danger!
According to local police, the deputies found the wayward pup trucking along around 1 a.m. on a particularly foggy stretch of road, wherein they promptly stepped in to help steer it to safety. “Due to the darkness and the dense fog the animal was very difficult to see and would have certainly been struck by a vehicle if the deputies had not stopped,” the police department said in a news release. In spite of the fact that this was clearly a wild animal, the report also says that the pup was “extremely friendly” with the deputies and rubbed up against their legs. At one point, he even posed for a photo which was later uploaded to the department’s Facebook page:
The pup had been tagged by the Marine Mammal Center rehabilitation facility in San Pedro, California, who had later released him into the wild. His interactions with the staff during his time there meant he had no qualms about cozying up to people! Since he didn’t appear to be in any obvious distress, the staff advised the deputies to give the pup an escort back to the ocean. They put him in the back seat (where he wore a seatbelt, of course), snapped another quick pic – and off they went!
As of today, there haven’t been any further reports of the pup making an appearance on land, so officials are hopeful that he finally took to the sea without looking back – which is fortunate, as there has been a dramatic increase in the number of sick or stranded sea lions since 2013. If you ever see a stranded or distressed marine animal, don’t intervene – especially since these are wild animals – but contact your local rescue organization, and if you’re in California you can call the Marine Mammal Center 24/7 at 415-289-SEAL.
[Featured image via.]