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Curious seal takes a stroll through a New Zealand hardware store in a wholesome encounter

A fur seal decides to explore a New Zealand hardware store, making it an unforgettable incident for store employees.

Curious seal takes a stroll through a New Zealand hardware store in a wholesome encounter
Cover Image Source: Released by Bunnings

Wild animals can often venture away from their native habitats into human spaces, creating unique and amusing situations. One such incident recently involved a seal venturing into a New Zealand hardware store that was getting ready for business on a Monday morning. Being a hardware store, the term "seal" usually refers to something that is used as a construction material rather than an animal, which caused this random encounter to be even more hilarious.

The seal wandered into the Whang─ürei branch of Bunnings, located on the northern island of New Zealand, in the morning. The animal was seen to be casually exploring the store's aisles. The cute animal made its initial entry through the delivery yard, where the staff quickly guided the seal by using boxes containing heavy equipment to create an impromptu enclosure. The seal in question happened to be a juvenile fur seal, locally known as a "kekeno".

Ovens and dishwasher boxes were used to contain the seal inside the Bunnings Warehouse. Image Source: Released by Bunnings
Ovens and dishwasher boxes were used to contain the seal inside the Bunnings Warehouse. Image Source: Released by Bunnings

 

Sara Yates, the manager overseeing the Bunnings establishment, initially believed her Goods Inwards (GI) team was playing a prank when they called her around 6:30 am to relay the news about the seal's appearance. By the time she reached the store, the seal was leisurely progressing toward the interior lights. Speaking to New Zealand Herald, she said, "While keeping clear from it, we tried a couple of times to barricade it so it didn't go inside, but we quickly learned she was a smart one and actually held a bit of weight behind her as a couple of teams tried to use shields to divert her back outside from inside GI and the back wall." She also mentioned that the seal displayed remarkable swiftness, requiring only occasional contemplation on how to ensure its confinement to a specific area. Despite their attempts to prevent its entry, the seal managed to slip inside the store and moved to find a hiding spot. At this point, Yates decided to bring in boxes with heavy equipment that would act as a "wall" to prevent the animal from moving around the store too much.

DOC marine rangers release the seal at Reotahi. Image Source: Released by Bunnings
DOC marine rangers release the seal at Reotahi. Image Source: Released by Bunnings

Once the seal was contained, she contacted rangers from the Department of Conservation (DOC) who promptly arrived at the outlet to take the seal away to its natural habitat. The seal was released at Reotahi, a location housing a seal colony and designated as a marine life reserve. Yates commended her team, saying, "She wasn't at all aggressive, a bit frightened and calmed right down after being barricaded. Proud of the team who acted promptly on my requests as we troubleshooted this very random Monday morning situation."

Evan Davies, a marine ranger, noted that the young seal seemed to be in decent shape, albeit slightly underweight. Bunning's quick action in contacting DOC on their hotline for assistance proved to be fruitful in ensuring the survival of the seal after all. Laura Boren, a marine science advisor at the DOC, mentioned that there were many reports of seal sightings across the country. She commented, "It's that time of the year again - seal-silly season. Despite it happening every winter, it takes people by surprise." She also highlighted how these sightings indicated that fur seals were thriving, which would naturally lead to more such encounters with these beautiful animals.