Shoebert, a grey seal that recently captured the hearts of residents of a Massachusetts town, escaped from the pond in which they had been swimming for the past week early Friday morning.
The seal first appeared earlier this month in Shoe Pond in the city of Beverly, northeast of Boston. The animal is believed to have traveled to the pond from the sea via a river and drainage pipes.
Firefighters and wildlife experts used boats and giant nets in an effort to capture the wily animal Thursday, but gave up after several fruitless hours. Early Friday morning, however, Shoebert left the pond, crossed a parking lot and appeared outside the side door of the local police station looking, according to a police statement, “for some help.”
The entire midnight shift of the police department, along with animal control, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's wildlife division and other officials, came to the seal's aid and were able to get Shoebert into a special wildlife carrier without incident. The seal appeared to be in good health "and was a little sassy in the early morning hours," police said.
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The seal was transported to Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, Connecticut, where marine biologists will care for it before deciding whether to release it back into the wild.
“You will be deeply missed by your friends here,” the police department wrote on Facebook. “Over the past week you brought a lot of joy and happiness to our city. Feel free to come back and visit anytime!”
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Shoebert's big escape came after wildlife officials spent a good part of the day Thursday trying to catch the seal with nets in order to remove it from the pond. The seal had taken up residence in the pond, which is located a few blocks from the ocean.
Officials had said the seal appeared to be fine, and it had drawn crowds of spectators since its first appearance about a week ago.