A year-old sea lion pup was found wandering through an almond orchard in Merced, California, nearly a mile from the water, confused and alone. The pup, who has since been named Hoppie, is suspected to have hopped the distance by himself before being discovered by ranchands on the farming complex of Bill Lyons Jr, the state's former Secretary of Food and Agriculture and a well-known conservationist.
"The ranch hands were working in the almond orchard and that's when they spotted [Hoppie]," Eric Hopson, the assistant wildlife refuge manager at the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge, told the Fresno Bee. "When I found it, it was actively moving along the edge of a farm field road near the almond orchard. The animal had already walked at least half-a-mile from the river and was obviously confused."
Within an hour of being found, Hoppie was taken to the Marine Mammal Center two hours away, where he has since been recuperating in the company of other rehabilitating wildlife and eating a hearty five pounds of fish per day. "Hoppie is a very lucky sea lion in so many ways," Hopson said. "I was just part of the process. It was great teamwork all around and a lot of lucky circumstances."