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After 100-Mile Journey To Modesto, Sea Lion Now Well Enough To Return To Wild

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Sea lion Hoppie, rescued after swimming up the San Joaquin River south of Modesto. (Credit The Marine Mammal Center)

Sea lion Hoppie, rescued after swimming up the San Joaquin River south of Modesto. (Credit The Marine Mammal Center)

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SAUSALITO (CBS SF) – After weeks of rehabilitation and a fair amount of weight gain, ‘Hoppie’ the sea lion headed back to the wild Tuesday.

Sasualito’s Marine Mammal Center says Hoppie, who was found emaciated in a Modesto almost orchard at the end of March, is now plump and healthy enough to be released at Chimney Rock on the Point Reyes National Seashore.

Ten years ago, an adult sea lion with a bullet in his neck was found perched on a police cruiser in Los Banos, even farther south, after somehow swimming up the San Joaquin River into the Central Valley. He was nicknamed Chippy and was released back into the wild after his rehabilitation.

The center’s spokeswoman, Laura Sherr said this pup was found in a similar predicament on March 31, some 100 miles from the ocean.

“This is the second California Sea Lion that we’ve found since Chippy. It’s very uncommon to respond to an animal that far from the coastline.” Sherr said shortly after Hoppie was found.

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