SeaWorld California’s Animal Rescue Team received an unusual call this week to come to the aid of a malnourished young sea lion which was found asleep in a booth in a San Diego restaurant.
Staff at San Diego’s La Jolla restaurant found the eight month old California sea lion pup in the Marine Room dining room but are not sure how it managed to get in.
Upon bringing her back to the park’s Animal Rescue Center, the team reports that the sea lion is extremely malnourished and dehydrated.
Weighing in at just over 9 kilograms, the sea lion is considered a micro pup meaning that she is half the weight she should be at her age. Animal care specialists immediately began a rehydration process including both sub-cutaneous and oral fluids. They are also keeping watch on the animal’s left eye, which remains shut and has some drainage coming out of it. SeaWorld is cautiously optimistic about the sea lion’s recovery, hoping she can be rehabilitated and returned to the wild.
SeaWorld animal experts believe that while today’s rescue is somewhat unorthodox, what isn’t surprising is that these young animals are seeking higher, dryer ground. Because of high tides, El Niño and an ongoing Unusual Mortality Event with California sea lions, the marine park is continuing to see a higher-than-normal number of strandings on local beaches, as are other rehabilitation facilities along the California coast. Because the younger animals are finding it difficult to find food, they become emaciated. Their hydration comes from the fish they eat, so when they are malnourished, they then become dehydrated. Dehydration makes it more difficult to regulate their body temperature. This is when they seek food and a warm, dry place.
So far this year, SeaWorld San Diego has rescued 47 marine mammals (40 sea lions, six harbor seals and one Guadalupe fur seal). In 2015, SeaWorld rescued 1,057 marine mammals (990 of which were California sea lions).
For further information about SeaWorld’s conservation work, visit www.seaworldcares.com.