When New Zealander Jenn Ross left her house at 6 a.m. to go to the gym, she heard a bark come from under her car. Whatever it was quickly shuffled away and she thought nothing of it. “She thought it was someone’s dog,” explains her husband Phil. What she found when she returned is probably the seal-iest thing you could think of: a baby fur seal flopping around in her hallway.
Jenn woke up their children, 12-year-old Noah and 10-year-old Ari, to meet “their new pet.” Phil says the kids thought their guest was “pretty exciting but they were totally oblivious to the fact that…not many of their mates would have seals come to visit them in their houses.” The family nicknamed the adorable intruder Oscar, in honor of their community’s tradition of giving seals that name. Oscar spent some time in the Ross’ spare room and on their couch, until Jenn was able to encourage him outside. A ranger from the Department of Conservation was able to safely trap Oscar and bring him back to sea.
While the three were dealing with the situation, Phil, a marine biologist, was actually out of town. “The big joke is that this is really the only family emergency where it would be useful to have a marine biologist in the house,” he jokes. “I really missed my time to shine.” It’s worth also mentioning that while seals are adorable, Phil warns, “And remember kids…if you see a seal on the beach, rocks, road, or your living room… give it plenty of space and keep your doggo away from it.”
As for how this happened, the Rosses suspect the seal had an encounter outside the home with their protective cat Coco. Phil hypothesizes, “The cat would have gone to defend its territory and obviously the seal wasn’t as intimidated as some dogs are, so Coco must have bolted around the side of the house, into the catflap, and the seal must have followed her.” Making his way through two catflaps, Oscar was able to enter the home. The seadog was able to freely roam around for likely an hour before Jenn found him. Coco, on the other hand, was hiding out at the house next door.
Thankfully, no person or animal was harmed and nothing was broken; although, Coco the cat was seemingly traumatized and is now reluctant to go downstairs. When Coco was taken into the spare room a day after the seal encounter, Jenn recalls, “She stuck her head in there and hissed and then left.” Phil ensures, though, that Oscar was “obviously a very good house guest,” specifically noting that Oscar hadn’t gone to the bathroom anywhere. “I think that would have been pretty terminal for the furniture,” he states.
While the Ross family home is close to the shore and seal sightings aren’t uncommon, it’s not usual for them to break into homes. The ranger that came to pick up Oscar had been out all day for seal-related call-outs, which he suspects was due to recent bad weather in the country. Phil also notes that young seals in particular roam around this time of the year because they are starting to wean. He equated Oscar, who is about 10 months old, to a teenager and added, “I guess, like all teenagers, they don’t necessarily make sensible decisions.”
Scroll below to see the pictures Jenn was able to capture of Oscar.
The last thing New Zealander Jenn Ross expected to greet her when she got home was a baby fur seal lounging on the couch and hanging out in the spare bedroom.
The seal-liest part is that her husband, marine biologist Phil Ross, wasn’t even home that day.
Phil hypothesizes that the seal, nicknamed Oscar, was likely following their cat, Coco, into the home through the catflaps.
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