WATCH | Cops and robben: 'Santa the seal' back in the ocean after dodging Cape Town traffic

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  • A Cape fur seal has been released back into its natural habitat after an unexpected visit to Athlone.
  • "Santa" managed to cross the busy Jakes Gerwel Drive to a nearby residential area, where it was peeking through a fence when it was captured.
  • It waved a flipper at SPCA officials and swam off after being released at Lagoon Beach in Milnerton.

The tale of a Cape fur seal which found itself far from home on Wednesday has had a happy ending after she was released back into the ocean after an unplanned trip to Athlone.

"Santa the seal", as she was dubbed by onlookers, was spotted on Jakes Gerwel Drive on Wednesday morning.

Metro officials redirected traffic as the surprise visitor looked left and right before ambling across the road, while motorists and bystanders gawked.

Cape of Good Hope SPCA chief inspector Jaco Pieterse said the organisation was at the scene within minutes after receiving frantic calls reporting the extraordinary pedestrian wandering through traffic near the Vangate Mall.

At that point, Santa had already made its way to a nearby house, where she was peeking through the fence.

"Because it is a wild animal, it’s natural that it was in distress. But it was unharmed," Pieterse assured.

READ | How a lion, which escaped from game reserve, was captured in Pretoria

The seal was captured and loaded into a cage, before being driven to Lagoon Beach in Milnerton, where it was released.

"It immediately entered the water, rolled onto its side and gave us a wave before swimming off," Pieterse said.

Something like this had not been seen in a "good couple of years", especially not so far inland, he added.

"Quite how a seal got to be there in the first place, so far from the ocean, will remain a mystery. One theory is that it had swum into a canal and was washed further away by strong currents, or that it was intended to be an unusual Christmas gift for someone’s mother-in-law and then merely dumped when its captor saw the price of fish!" he joked.

Pieterse warned that people should not approach any wild animal, especially Cape fur seals, which could be "quite aggressive and will not hesitate to bite when cornered or feeling threatened".

He pleaded with members of the public to add the organisation to their Christmas present list so that it could continue with its long-term projects and services for animals in need.

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