It’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for a rodent.
Peanut, a 10-week-old beaver who was orphaned by a bear attack in Prince George, is now safe and sound at San Diego SeaWorld.
Peanut was first rescued by a couple phoned the Northern Lights Wildlife Shelter, near Smithers.
That’s where Laurie Conrad, a SeaWorld bird curator, picked up Peanut on July 5 for a two-stage Jazz Air flight down to California.
“It’s a little farther than we normally go, but we work with shelters all over,” Conrad said.
SeaWorld rescues between 150 to 200 marine animals every year, she added, mostly California sea lions.
They also rehabilitate a few hundred sea birds each year, primarily brown pelicans that either get blown off course or injured by fishing gear.
While Conrad has flown on passenger planes with other species, usually penguins, her flight with Peanut’s was her first with a beaver.
Peanut, who may be male or female, got a few extra laps in the swimming tub at Northern Lights to ensure a relaxed flight.
Too young to fly in the cargo hold, Peanut had to get special permits from Jazz, Air Canada, U.S. and Canadian officials to fly in a kennel with the rest of the passengers.
“We’re going to keep a low profile,” said Conrad before the flight, noting that she would keep a blanket over Peanut’s kennel to keep the animal and fellow passengers calm.
Now in San Diego, Peanut is getting veterinary check-ups and taking 30 days away from any crowds to adjust to its new lodge at SeaWorld. When fully grown, Peanut will likely weigh about 50 lbs.
Conrad said Peanut will join SeaWorld as an animal ambassador—a program where handlers speak to the public about animal protection and conservation efforts while giving them an encounter with creatures they are unlikely to see up close.