The wayward sea lion of Vacaville appeared to be heading home Wednesday.
An animal services official spotted the sea lion Tuesday morning in Vacaville and contacted The Marine Mammal Center, according to spokesman Giancarlo Rulli. As of late Wednesday afternoon, he reported that the sea lion had made its way back into one of the main channels of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
Vacaville police officers, fire officials and more than a dozen Marine Mammal Center responders tried unsuccessfully for hours Tuesday to flush the animal out of a drainage pipe. The rescue was called off at nightfall and resumed Wednesday.
The sea lion, dubbed Leisure for his swim in the water near Leisure Town Road, appeared again Wednesday morning from the pipe and began swimming with some speed down Ulatis Creek.
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The hope is that having made it to the Delta, the sea lion will then swim into the bay and to the ocean as it pleases him, Rulli said.
“It’s the best possible outcome that this animal was able to make his way back out toward the Delta on his own and has resumed normal hunting behavior,” Cara Field, staff veterinarian at The Marine Mammal Center, said in a written statement. “We were prepared to rescue him but the fact that he was swimming with such purpose and appeared comfortable in navigating his way back, gives us confidence he’ll be just fine.”
Experts at the center believe the animal likely traveled up the Sacramento River, took a wrong turn and followed a series of agricultural ditches and waterways to get to Vacaville.
Although Vacaville is a rare location for a rescue call, the animal is in very good body condition and active, said Dr. Cara Field, staff veterinarian at The Marine Mammal Center.
The mammal, believed to be a young male, is fat and looks healthy and appeared to be enjoying his adventure, Rulli said.