An adventurous sea lion bull has decided to make Timaru his new home and it's creating quite a few problems for the locals.
The one-and-a-half-year-old has been searching far and wide for a mate, but he’s looking in all the wrong places, and has found himself stuck in the middle of a busy state highway.
The sea lion has a habit of swimming more than a kilometre up Saltwater Creek to public parks and walkways.
That’s left the council to try and take protective measures and the frisky fellow has found himself stuck behind a blockade, after a fence was put up in front of his favourite passageway near the road.
Timaru District Council Parks and Recreation manager Bill Steans is advising the public to keep a wide berth around the sea lion, of at least 20 metres at all times, and to make sure they don’t get between it and any source of water.
“He's just living up what we have to offer here in Timaru, he just thinks this is the best place to be and he's enjoying himself,” he says.
“He's been having fun as young guys tend to do, he's disrupting the traffic and some of our walkways but he's loving every minute of it so long as you don't get too close to him.”
Department of Conservation ranger Ian Fraser says he will be eating eels and perch in the stream. As they are endangered, it’s illegal to harass them, and rangers work to make sure they can peacefully co-exist with humans where possible.
“They're incredibly curious, they're quite smart animals and when they're this young and they don't have much to do they seem to like exploring their world, this guy seems to have taken a liking to dancing with cars,” Mr Fraser says.
“Because he's a young male he's quite bulshie, he seems to be getting a bit more aggressive and challenging people who have stumbled on him.
“He's been having a crack at the odd duck apparently, and he's keen to interact with people, we hope that he will want to interact with his own kind soon.”
He may look cute but he's also dangerous, as sea lions can carry diseases and can even cause serious injuries if they feel like they're at risk.
There’s no knowing how long he’ll stay and he may be in town for several weeks yet. He may be found lurking in rivers, off paths near waterways and on the beach.