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SeaWorld euthanizes sick sea lion found on San Diego freeway

denver zoo, nick the sea lion, r m
Posted at 7:46 PM, Apr 25, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-25 19:46:00-04

SAN DIEGO — Freeway, the sea lion rescued after wandering inland from his ocean home and crossing busy San Diego thoroughfares, has been euthanized after falling ill.

The sea lion earned his name in January 2022 after being found on State Route 94, a freeway several miles from shore, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

The SeaWorld San Diego team that got him to safety said he'd been previously spotted at San Diego International Airport and in a storm drain in the Logan Heights neighborhood.

Before being rescued last year, Freeway had contracted a "progressive disease that our animal care experts diagnosed," SeaWorld said in statement Friday.

"Despite extensive treatment, the disease caused his health to deteriorate over time," the statement said.

Given his decline, the team made the decision to humanely euthanize him, SeaWorld said.

Freeway was first rescued in November 2021 when he was found on a busy road near North San Diego Bay. A rescue crew rehabbed him at SeaWorld for a week, fitted his left flipper with an orange tag and brought him back to the sea.

SeaWorld never figured out why the sea lion kept wandering so far from the ocean.

When animals wander out of their habitat, it's usually for food, SeaWorld officials told the Union-Tribune last year. But Freeway's weight was good and he appeared healthy at the time.

"His adventurous spirit won the hearts of all San Diegans and he will be remembered for that and so much more," SeaWorld said.

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This story was first published on April 23, 2023. It was updated on April 24, 2023 to correct that the animal developed a disease before it was rescued and rehabilitated by SeaWorld, not after.