John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
One adventurous marine mammal makes waves in New Zealand.
Where is a seal’s pied-à-terre in the metro area? If you said the car wash you’d be correct, at least for one wandering critter in a suburb of Auckland, New Zealand.
The 220-pound swimmer was spotted Monday night cruising through the drive-through of a McDonald’s. On Tuesday it relocated to the Papakura Uwash, where it spent much of the day alternately stretching and sleeping. It didn’t seem too bothered by the crowds that amassed—seriously, one woman showed up with a bag of raw fish—though it’d probably vomit half-digested squid tentacles if it knew it inspired a parody Twitter account.
Unlike the malnourished sea lions appearing in San Francisco, this marine mammal seemed to be in fine health. 3 News, which has the best video of the incident, quotes a zoo keeper saying the seal was “just being nosey.” So rescue workers tranquilized it, brushed it with detergent and hot wax, and sent it back to the ocean all squeaky clean. Not really, but it does sound like the wash would’ve appreciated a little business from the animal, reports 3 News:
It was a busy day for the carwash but unfortunately with no one cleaning their car, it wasn’t good for business.
“No business any day of the week is not a good time, but it is what it is and it’s nature,“ says Uwash owner Kirit Makan.
Eventually DOC and Auckland Zoo staff managed to corner the seal into a cage and load him onto a ute.
They drove him to Karioitahi Beach in south Auckland, where they dropped him five kilometres down the west coast beach—far away from people and far away from the city, where [Department of Conservation] staff hope he’ll never visit again.