An enterprising sea lion pup is making headlines after courageously making his way more than 100 miles inland and earning the name Hoppie in the process. Although Hoppie was likely lost and headed nowhere in particular, his adventure up the San Joaquin River and subsequent land journey has earned comparisons to the classic children's film Homeward Bound.
Ranch hands found Hoppie in an almond orchard roughly eight miles west of Modesto, California. After determining that the pup was indeed a sea lion and not an otter, ranch boss Billy Lyons called assistant wildlife refuge manager Billy Hopson. "When I found it, it was actively moving along the edge of a farm field road near the almond orchard," said Hopson. "The animal had already walked at least half a mile from the river and was obviously confused."
The creature is now safely housed at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, where he is being fed five pounds of fish a day to fatten him up. It is still unclear as to why Hoppie, believed to be just a year old, set out on his fantastic voyage. Sea lion pups remain with their mothers until they are well over a year old, so it's quite possible that Hoppie was abandoned or his mother was killed, causing him to flee into the great unknown in search of comfort.