Rabbit was one of OdySea aquarium's most popular seals, but the 11-year-old harbor seal has been called to duty.
He traveled across the country this week to become a companion for 35-year-old Luke, a seal at the Smithsonian's National Zoo. Think of it like a teenager befriending an elder.
The hope is that the social and trusting young seal will spark new life in Luke, who has been by himself for a few years, said Rachel Metz, the curator of Luke's exhibit.
"Luke is already pretty spry for a 35-year-old, but our hope is that by bringing in a younger seal, Rabbit can increase his energy and give him some companionship," she said.
Harbor seals are generally solitary species in the ocean and while hunting, but become more sociable on land.
The personality that made Rabbit a good candidate for companionship also made him a favorite of visitors to the aquarium near Scottsdale. Born at a facility in Texas, Rabbit had been at OdySea since 2016.
"Although our guests may be a little bit heartbroken, as the staff is too, this is a good opportunity for Rabbit," said Jess Peranteau, director of animal care and education at OdySea.
"We may be seeing him again," she said.
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As for his cross-country trek, Metz said he handled it like a superstar. "Rabbit is a particularly pretty seal, very upbeat, curious and calm the entire time," she said.
Rabbit will be held in quarantine for one month as he adjusts to his new home and diet.
After that, he will meet Luke.