SAN DIEGO – Freeway the Sea Lion could not be stopped. He saw eateries near the ocean, sped down a busy urban freeway, and drifted into an urban sewer.
Ultimately, experts at SeaWorld San Diego said, a progressive disease did enough damage that the park opted to euthanize her to stop the suffering.
“It is with a heavy heart that we share ‘Freeway,’ the rescued sea lion passed away yesterday — surrounded by the devoted care and love of his rescuers,” the park said Friday. Facebook,
SeaWorld did not specify the illness or its effects. It said Freeway contracted the disease before making headlines.
“Despite extensive treatment, his health deteriorated over time,” SeaWorld said. “Given her decline, the team made the extremely difficult, but compassionate decision to humanely euthanize her.”
The freeway was moving before traffic stopped last year.
In late 2021, she has been rescued or sighted near San Diego International Airport, Naval Base Point Loma, on the Mission Beach boardwalk, and at a deli adjacent to nearby Mission Bay, SeaWorld has said.
The freeway earned its name on January 7, 2022, when it ended 4 miles from the coast at eastbound State Route 94, a main artery to California’s second largest city.
The 200-pound marine mammal was rescued from a freeway median, according to the California Highway Patrol and SeaWorld.
She was taken to the SeaWorld San Diego Rescue Center for health evaluation and rehabilitation before returning to sea in February 2022.
In May, however, Freeway was again found adrift, this time in a bay about 1 mile from the ocean. SeaWorld experts pulled her from Cholas Creek, a concrete-lined storm water channel, and placed her.
california sea lions West Coast Native Protected under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act. their triple the population Between 1975 and 2014, according to a 2018 study, prompted San Diego officials to consider closing coastal beach access and parks to balance their needs with those of humans.
SeaWorld San Diego on Friday said the excitement of the freeway’s road-trip won’t soon be forgotten. “His adventurous spirit won the hearts of all San Diegans and he will be remembered for this and much more,” it said.