MORELIA, Mexico – A young sea lion was found in a neighborhood in Morelia, the capital of the western Mexican state of Michoacan and a city located 450 kilometers (280 miles) from the sea, emergency services officials said Tuesday.
Residents of the Felix Ireta district found the marine mammal inside a cardboard box in a first-of-its-kind incident in the city.
Officials initially speculated that the sea lion had escaped from Benito Juarez Zoological Park, the third-largest zoo in Mexico and located just two streets from where the animal was found.
The young sea lion was apparently abandoned near the park by someone hoping that residents would take it to the facility, zoo director Josue Rangel Diaz told EFE.
Profepa federal environmental protection agency personnel and zoo workers are evaluating the sea lion.
Benito Juarez Zoological Park is already home to a pair of sea lions and officials plan to keep the young sea lion at the zoo because releasing it in the wild at such a young age entails risks.
The habitat of sea lions, which are listed as endangered, extends along the Pacific coast from Mexico to Alaska.