By Jennifer McGraw

VACAVILLE (CBS13/AP) — Wildlife experts are frustrated by a young sea lion that evaded their attempts to rescue him from a canal that cuts through farmland and an inland Northern California neighborhood.

An animal services official spotted the sea lion Tuesday morning and contacted The Marine Mammal Center.

Vacaville police officers, fire officials and more than a dozen Marine Mammal Center responders tried unsuccessfully for hours to flush the animal out of a drainage pipe in the canal. The rescue was called off for nightfall and will resume Wednesday.

“We have good reason to believe that he is still in there. There doesn’t seem to be any other openings,” said Dave Zahniser with Marine Mammal Center.

The sun bathing lion drew hundreds of visitors and was even named by a local 14-year-old boy, Mr. Leisure.

“He was just sitting there, so he just took a leisurely stroll down the creek,” Phoenix Hughes said it made perfect sense because the sea lion was found just off of Leisure Town Road.

It’s unclear how the sea lion got into the canal. The closest body of water is the Sacramento River, about 50 miles north. But experts at the center believe the animal likely traveled up the river, took a wrong turn and followed a series of agricultural ditches and waterways to get to the canal.

“Although this is a rare location for a rescue call, this animal is in very good body condition and active, so we are hoping it just made a wrong turn,” said Dr. Cara Field, staff veterinarian at The Marine Mammal Center. “Our hope is that the animal makes his way back out of the pipe on his own so we can attempt another rescue.”

Officials want to rescue the animal and take it to the center in Sausalito to be evaluated.

The mammal, believed to be a young male, is fat and looks healthy and seems to be enjoying his adventure Zahniser.


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