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Cape Town elephant seal getting royal treatment

The stray elephant seal seemed to wave to onlookers while lounging on the doorstep of an office building in Cape Town, South Africa
The stray elephant seal seemed to wave to onlookers while lounging on the doorstep of an office building in Cape Town, South Africa  

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNN) -- A 2,000-pound elephant seal that had parked himself on the doorstep of an advertising firm in Cape Town, South Africa, for more than two days has moved off, at least for a while, a marine expert said.

The seal, probably from a colony on a nearby island, took up residence in an exclusive private marina more than two weeks ago, said Mike Meyer of the Marine Coastal Management Agency. The area was closed to boating activity and swimmers, and people were able to get a look at the animal from a distance.

A 24-hour guard was provided by the International Fund for Animal Welfare to keep people from getting too close, Meyer said.

Then Monday, people coming to work at a nearby building complex found the 15-foot seal lying across a double doorway.

"This chappee just waltzed up there and parked himself nicely against the front doors," Meyer said.

He said the seal "decided at times that the flower beds were just ideal, because they were much cooler in that area, so he flattened those as well."

Officials of the building complex were content to leave him there at first, but Meyer said the decision was finally made to move him to keep him from wandering into a main road.

Meyer and others waited until morning, when elephant seals are most active, and approached the creature, coaxing him back toward the water.

"He had quite a complex route to get to that area and he got a little bit confused, and so we had to just basically show him the right way," Meyer said.

The seal spent Wednesday morning at the marina and then went for a swim, "but I expect he'll come back," Meyer said.

While other elephant seals have occasionally visited Cape Town, Meyer said this one's visit has been unusually long, thanks to the steps taken to avoid bothering him.

"Normally people tend to always get a bit close and annoy the animal and eventually he disappears up the coast," Meyer said. "But in this case he's being treated like royalty."



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RELATED SITES:
IFAW: International Fund for Animal Welfare

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