After adventuring far from its natural habitat, a young sea lion previously trapped in a Vacaville canal appears to be headed back to the San Francisco Bay.
The marine mammal, which was originally spotted Tuesday morning in the canal by an animal services official, was discovered Wednesday morning in a stream nearly two miles downstream from the canal, according to NBC affiliate KCRA.
Vacaville police officers, fire officials and more than a dozen Marine Mammal Center responders on Tuesday tried unsuccessfully for hours to flush the animal out of a drainage pipe in the canal.
The rescue was called off for nightfall and was scheduled to resume Wednesday, according to Marine Mammal Center spokesman Giancarlo Rulli said. But when folks came out Wednesday morning to resume the search and rescue effort, the wayward animal couldn't be found in the canal.
After learning that the sea lion had been spotted Wednesday morning, the Marine Mammal Center announced that it was deploying a team to launch a new search and rescue effort.
Residents did manage to name the animal in a contest conducted on the Vacaville police Facebook page. Leisure gets his name from Leisure Town Road, where he was found.
It's unclear how the sea lion got into the canal. The closest body of water is the Sacramento River, about 50 miles north. 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, Rulli said.