This article appeared in the October 14, 2022 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Make way for Shoebert: The birth of a seal celebrity

Cummings Properties
A sign erected in Beverly, Massachusetts, honors Shoebert, a vagrant seal who eluded capture for 10 days in September and has become a local celebrity.
Peter Grier
Washington editor

Shoebert the seal may have legs.

Not legs as in limbs with feet. Seals have flippers. Legs as in continued appeal. Celebrity. Lasting fame.

Last month I did a piece on this gray seal and his vacation in a small pond in Beverly, Massachusetts. He’d crawled up a drainage pipe from the ocean. Locals called him Shoebert because he was in Shoe Pond, named for Beverly’s historic role in America’s shoemaking industry.

Shoebert eluded capture attempts. He began attracting onlookers. Stores began selling Shoebert memorabilia. A theater hosted showings of the movie “Andre,” about another seal finding shelter in a New England harbor. 

Then one night he heaved out of the water and waddled through a nearby multiuse building park. He ended up at the Beverly police station. Long story short, he was caught, checked at an aquarium, and released into his natural home, the Atlantic.

But Shoebert’s impact on Beverly remains. There’s now a “Seal X-ing” sign at the road he crossed to get to the police station. Cummings Center, the mixed-use development he traversed, used surveillance footage to track his winding overland trail.

“He wanted to head east, where the ocean is,” says Jim Trudeau, chief design officer of the property and part-time Shoebert publicist.

A nearby building will soon feature a mural of photos of the seal’s visit. A sculpture is in the works, depicting a seal on a rock.

Will there be a Shoebert trail following his waddle? A documentary? A book called “Make Way for Seals?”

Shoebert might attend the premiere. After his release he was tracked back to the northern Massachusetts coastline, though he’s expected to keep going.

“Some of us hoped he might pop his head up here again,” says Mr. Trudeau.

This article appeared in the October 14, 2022 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 10/14 edition
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