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Seal Can't Return To Ocean After South Jersey Beachgoers Domesticate It

By John McDevitt

BRIGANTINE, N.J. (CBS) - An eight-month-old seal being cared for at the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine leaves Sunday for its new home at a zoo in Michigan.

"If people hadn't interfered she would have a life in the wild like she is supposed to have," says Bob Schoelkopf, director of the center.

He says the seal, who has been in the organization's care before, was taken off a South Jersey beach for the last time in September after a child pet it -- signaling to officials that the mammal has become accustomed to humans.

"He was used to them because the people along the beach," Schoelkopf says, "when he came up, was throwing him fish and bait fish and whatever they were catching thinking it was nice, but what they were doing actually it was a federal offense because you are not allowed to feed em and it domesticated the mammal to the point where it now has to live in captivity for the rest of its life."

The seal's new home will be the Detroit Zoo.

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