Seal pup wanders into home
A WANDERING baby fur-seal wriggled through the cat-door of a Bay of Plenty house - and made himself at home on the couch.
A stunned Annette Swoffer thought she must have been hallucinating when she found the young pup hanging out with her cats in her kitchen on Sunday night.
The seal had made its way from the Welcome Bay waterfront, through the suburb's residential area, across busy Welcome Bay Rd, up a slip road, along Ms Swoffer's long driveway, under a gate, through the cat door and up some stairs before he was found in the kitchen about 9.30pm.
"I was in my office and I heard an awful racket down below... I thought the cats have brought a rabbit or something in so I went down and had a look - and there's a seal in my kitchen.
"I thought 'I'm hallucinating, this is just wrong'."
Stunned, Ms Swoffer called a friend who lives in a unit at the same property to come and verify what she was seeing.
"I'm looking and I'm definitely seeing flippers and not paws."
Calmly, the young pup then eased past Ms Swoffer's dog and cats before making himself at home on a couch and attempting to snuggle in for the night.
"Then it looks at me with those huge brown eyes. It was so cute, but I didn't touch it because you don't with wild animals."
Ms Swoffer called the SPCA.
"They were giggling away and I'm saying 'I'm not drunk, I'm not lying', there's a seal in my house."
The SPCA contacted the Department of Conservation, which was already looking for a seal reported hopping along Welcome Bay Rd.
Ms Swoffer said the pup was "really friendly" and not aggressive in the slightest - which is unusual for seals.
"I was standing there thinking 'this is really strange'," Ms Swoffer said.
Chris Clark, biodiversity programme manager for DOC, arrived to remove the young pup and release him back into the water.
It was not his first time doing so that day.
Mr Clark had already spent the afternoon capturing what he believed was the same seal after it traipsed through the Devonport Rd area between 11th and 12th Aves.
It ended up in a residential garden, scaring elderly residents.
He believed the pup had "obviously just weaned from its mum".
The pup had come up from Memorial Park and Mr Clark, with police help, eventually managed to coax it into a net and then release it into the Tauranga Harbour near Harbourside Restaurant that afternoon.
Mr Clark said that although seals can look "very cuddly", they were wild creatures and needed to be treated as such.
At Ms Swoffer's home, the seal was put in a net and box but as it was being driven away in the Doc vehicle, it escaped and made its way up to the front of the vehicle, accidentally turning on the radio and ending up on the front seat.
Mr Clark today said he was called out again about 9 o'clock last night after a seal was seen on Turret Rd but it had disappeared by the time he arrived.
Anyone who encounters a seal, or other wild animal, should call the DOC hotline 0800 DOC HOT before emergency services.