Photo of Duluth zoo seal amid flooding goes viral

Seal on the loose
In this photo provided by Ellie Burcar, a seal that escaped from the Lake Superior Zoo lies on Grand Avenue in Duluth, Minn. around 2:30 a.m. on Wednesday, June 20. Some animals escaped from their pens at the zoo as floods fed by a steady torrential downpour struck northeastern Minnesota, inundating the city of Duluth, officials said Wednesday. (AP Photo/Ellie Burcar)

It was a picture worth, ahem, clapping for: a bright-eyed seal that got out of the Lake Superior Zoo, lying in the middle of Grand Avenue as if it weren't sure where to go.

That photo went viral, re-tweeted hundreds, if not thousands, of times, picked up by numerous websites and even inspiring a twitter account: the "Duluth Zoo Seal."

The photo was taken by 26-year-old Riverside resident Ellie Burcar, who said she was driving home from a friend's house early Wednesday when she spotted what she thought was a dog in the road.

"When I got closer, I couldn't believe it: It was a seal," she said. "It was a perfect shot. Right after he turned his head."

The car in the background of the photo belongs to Donald Melton, who said he was out taking a look at the storm damage when he saw the seal, named "Feisty."


"She couldn't believe it," Melton said of Burcar. "She jumped out and started taking pictures of it with her phone."

After Burcar posted the photo to her Facebook page, a Facebook friend posted it on his page. Kyle Matteson of Minneapolis spotted the photo and forwarded it to the Duluth News Tribune, which linked to it on the newspaper's Twitter page. From there, it went viral.

Feisty was able to escape when Kingsbury Creek flooded its Polar Shores exhibit.

Burcar said she and Melton used their cars to block oncoming traffic from hitting the seal, then corralled it to a small puddle until the arrival of police and firefighters, who took it back to the zoo.

"When we got it into the water, it was splashing around on the side of the road," Burcar said. "It was amazing."

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