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Avalon, California: Statue of Old Ben, Hungry Sea Lion

Immortalized in bronze, Old Ben was the town pet and persistent mooch of Santa Catalina Island.

Crescent Ave., Avalon, CA
On Crescent Ave., adjacent to the Catherine Hotel.
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Statue of Old Ben.

Statue of Old Ben, Hungry Sea Lion

After docking at the harbor and heading into town, Old Ben is easy to spot near the sidewalk.

[Monica Threadgold, 05/13/2013]
Statue of Old Ben, Hungry Sea Lion

Old Ben was an unusually large and friendly sea lion who first appeared in the Avalon harbor in 1898. He quickly became the town mooch, flopping through the streets looking for fish snacks and posing for snapshots with Santa Catalina tourists. He even appeared in a 1914 movie, "The Sea Nymphs," before swimming off and disappearing in the early 1920s.

Avalon never forgot its flippery town pet, and in 1975 it erected a life-size concrete statue of Old Ben as its Bicentennial project -- a statue reportedly so lifelike that real seals would bark at it. That statue was replaced by an identical one made of bronze in 1986, and in 2009 it was moved from its spot on the end of a pier to a more shutterbug-friendly downtown location.

The East Coast also has its own adored seal statue, but Ben was the first.

[ Team, 12/16/2009]

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