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Sea lion rescued from San Diego highway, miles from the ocean

Jan. 7 (UPI) -- Police and animal rescuers responded to a San Diego highway where a sea lion was spotted attempting to cross the road several miles from the nearest shoreline.

The California Highway Patrol said 911 dispatchers started receiving calls about 9:40 a.m. Friday about a sea lion attempting to cross Route 94, near Route 15.

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The CHP said several cars stopped in the roadway and bystanders directed traffic to allow the sea lion to cross to the center divide.

CHP officers arrived on the scene and kept the animal safe from traffic while awaiting a rescue team from Sea World.

Jeni Smith, a supervisor with the rescue program at Sea World San Diego, said the sea lion was several miles from the ocean. She said it is rare to see such an animal so far from the water.

"We got in our truck immediately and rushed down to ensure that the sea lion wasn't hit by a car," Smith told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "Being on the freeway is very, very unsafe for a sea lion."

Smith said rescuers aren't sure how the sea lion ended up at the highway, but they believe it may be the same animal spotted elsewhere recently.

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"It does fit the description of an animal we have gotten reports about that -- he's been in some precarious areas, but they've all been next to the water."

Smith said the sea lion was being taken to Sea World for examination and rehabilitation for an eventual release.

"This has happened a few times before, but never -- as far as I know -- never this far inland," Smith said.

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