SAN DIEGO — Freeway, the beloved rescue sea lion at SeaWorld known for waddling down San Diego’s busy roads, passed away Thursday, the park announced.
“It is with heavy hearts that we share ‘Freeway,’ the rescued sea lion, passed away yesterday — surrounded with love from his devoted care and rescue teams,” SeaWorld said in a Facebook post Friday.
Freeway, who was first rescued last year after he was found strolling on State Route 94, reportedly contracted a progressive disease that caused his health to deteriorate over time.
After extensive treatment, SeaWorld said that his continued decline prompted his care team to humanely euthanize him to prevent further suffering.
SeaWorld representatives did not specify the disease or its impacts, although they said it had developed prior to Freeway’s rescue.
The wayward sea lion wandered into the hearts of San Diegans on Jan. 7, 2022, when he made national headlines after ending up four miles from the coast on the eastbound State Route 94. By the time he was rescued by SeaWorld, he had nearly reached the Interstate 805.
After the rescue and rehabilitation, Freeway was released to the sea, only to be found back pounding the pavement in May 2022. Crews pulled him from a concrete-lined storm water channel and SeaWorld’s expert care team kept him.
His fondness for braving the city’s asphalt arteries is what earned him his colorful name.
“His adventurous spirit won the hearts of all San Diegans and he will be remembered for that and so much more,” SeaWorld said. “We are grateful for the support of the community and all of Freeway’s fans who, like us, loved him so very much. We will miss him dearly.”