#mondaymemories: It was a great escape that nearly caused an international incident.
Long before President Trump irked Canada by imposing tariffs on some of its products, the two countries quarreled over the fate of a Canadian fugitive who ended up in American waters.
The Maumee River, to be specific.
The year was 1954, when Cyril Zalophus Californianus — a 100-pound sea lion — escaped from the zoo in London, Ont., and made his way through waterways into the Maumee. Canadian officials were initially ambivalent about whether to pursue the wayward mammal, but Toledo naturalists had no such qualms.
It took some doing; for more than a week, the creature was sighted at docks along Lake Erie, including Toledo, Port Clinton, and Sandusky, before finally being caught by Dan Danford, the Toledo Zoo’s curator of mammals. Today’s Blade archive photo shows Mr. Danford snaring Cyril with a come-along noose in a Sandusky boathouse.
That was not the end of the story. Once Cyril was in captivity, London officials decided to send a carload of officials and a truck to cart the animal home. They were initially rebuffed by Toledo Zoo director Phil Skeldon, who claimed to have caught the sea lion in American waters. He wanted Canada to file a formal request through the U.S. government.
It never came to that. After a week of negotiation, Mr. Skeldon agreed to return Cyril “in the interest of international amity.” Of course, by then more than 23,000 Toledoans had come in a single day to get a look at mammalian escape artist — 5,000 short of the record for the time.
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