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Rescuing a baby sea lion from the highway earns California officers a PETA award

California Highway Patrol officers said a sea lion stranded on Highway 101 in South San Francisco near SFO airport on the bay was rescued last month and taken to the SPCA and Marine Mammal Center to be treated.
California Highway Patrol officers said a sea lion stranded on Highway 101 in South San Francisco near SFO airport on the bay was rescued last month and taken to the SPCA and Marine Mammal Center to be treated. CHP - San Francisco

The highway rescue of a stranded baby sea lion has earned California Highway Patrol officers praise from all over, including animal rights activists.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is sending CHP a “Compassionate Police Department Award” to recognize Officer Roger Pereira’s April 30 rescue of the young marine mammal that was stuck on the shoulder of Highway 101 south of San Francisco, the nonprofit group said in a news release on Monday.

“Officer Pereira’s kindness and quick thinking were this lucky sea lion’s ticket to safety,” PETA Vice President Colleen O’Brien said in a statement. “PETA hopes this story will inspire others to come to the aid of animals whenever they’re in need.”

Along with the framed award certificate, PETA sent officers “boxes of delicious vegan cookies,” according to the news release.

“Essentially when I got the call I couldn’t believe there was a sea lion on the freeway,” Pereira said, according to KGO. “Usually we get dogs, cats, things like that. At first we were like ‘we will see when we get there.’ And then sure enough it was an actual sea lion.”

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By the time Pereira got to the sea lion in distress, other bystanders were already trying to keep the animal out of traffic, according to PETA. One man was attempting to “herd the mammal with a handkerchief” before officers arrived, SFGATE reported.

“Surprisingly it willingly jumped into the back of the patrol car,” Pereira said, according to the TV station. “We opened the door and it just hopped right in.”

Officers drove the animal to Peninsula Humane Society and then it was later transferred to the Marine Mammal Center, according to KGO.

Dr. Cara Field, a veterinarian at the center, said that the “rescue of a California sea lion is a great example of the importance of members of the public giving our rescue hotline a call to report a marine mammal in distress,” SFGATE reported.

Marine Mammal Center, headquartered in Sausalito, examined the 30-pound baby sea lion and found that it was slightly malnourished and had a small cut on a flipper, Patch reports.

“Kid likely separated from his mother early and wasn’t quite ready to forage appropriately on his own,” Field said, according to Patch. “Although a bit malnourished, this sea lion pup is very active and feisty so we’re hopeful with immediate supportive care that he makes a full recovery.”

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