Monday, May 14, 2007

It All Started With Knute The Cute:
Now It's Astro, The Walkathon Sea Lion!

Well this is another episode of the "cutesy" part of my blog. It all started with Knut the Cute, the German Polar Bear. I guess it's good to see some good news every now and Paris Hilton or Illegal Aliens are in this one. It's just a nice story about another wayward creature from the animal world I think you'll on!

Children at the Marin Country Day School in Corte Madera had an odd participant in their walk-a-thon Friday morning: "Astro," a Steller sea lion! The sea lion wandered onto the lower field bordering the bay and immediately drew the attention of students, parents, and teachers.

After several efforts to coax the sea lion back into the bay failed, a call was placed to the Marine Mammal Center ( Thanks to the numbered tag on the sea lion’s back, the Marine Mammal Center was able to quickly identify him as “Astro.”

At about 9:15 a.m. Friday, Astro was swimming in San Francisco Bay when he apparently noticed schoolchildren walking on the field at the school campus, which is adjacent to the water. He got curious and waddled ashore. "One of the parents turned around and there was this sea lion," said Kelly Watson, director of constituent relations and web communications at the school. The year-old sea lion, which weighs about 185 pounds, then proceeded to shuffle around the walk-a-thon course, which was set off with orange cones. "He did a whole lap," Watson said. Commotion ensued as adults and children watched Astro meande around the field. School staffers tried to coax Astro back into the bay, using buckets."We figured the mammal center people used buckets to feed him, but it didn't work," Watson said. "He ended up in the parking lot." The mammal center was then called and center employees picked up the sojourning sea lion.

Center spokesman Jim Oswald said Astro - abandoned by his mother off the San Mateo coast last June - apparently became accustomed to people during his rehabilitation and now will not be returned to the wild. "The problem is we got him as a young pup and he didn't know anything but humans," he said. "We had to bottle-feed him, but we tried to minimize contact. But he was still around humans." Now the mammal center will seek a home for Astro, possibly the Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut, which has accommodations for Steller sea lions, a threatened species.

Whatever the reason, Astro’s visit made for a Walkathon to remember and by the time the marine people arrived, Astro had completed a full lap of the walkathon course! The school is working to collect a donation for Astro's one lap and donate it to the mammal center.

Way to go Astro!