We went first of all to see an excessively curious animal. It had been captured alive in the Straight of Magellan.(...) This animal has the head of a lion, and a long moustache; a little below the head it is equipped with short flippers ending in webbed feet like a goose's, at the extremities of which there are five strong claws. The body, of about five feet in length, thickens in the middle to about the size of a big dog, and ends in a fishtail with a fin on each side. These fins resemble a dog's hind feet, but shorter, and end in the same way as the front flippers. Its skin is without scales, like an eel's, and a dark grey colour that is not so much flecked as intermingled with black. It seems voracious, swallowing the raw fish it is given gluttonously.(..) I have never seen such an extraordinary creature.
Anna Francesca Cradock 1784
From: Journal de Madame Cradock. Voyage en France ( 1783-1786 ) Paris (Perrin) 1896, p.69
Quoted in: Zoo: A History of Zoological Gardens in the West by Eric Baratay and Elisabeth Hardoin-Fugier
Translated by Oliver Welsh