Maybe she had come for the hazelnut coated wild prawns or the stunning sea views.
Whatever the case, a sickly sea lion caused quite a stir at a San Diego restaurant this week. It was found by staff sleeping in a booth early Thursday overlooking the ocean. It was soon was roused from its slumber and began poking around the restaurant.
“I got to tell you when you see a little pup like this, it touches your heart. It’s such a cute little thing,” the Marine Room’s executive chef Bernard Guillas told FoxNews.com. “It looked good to me. It was alert. Then they gave me the news, very much underweight. Ouch. I guess they need to be nice and chubby.”
Guillas, who joked on his Facebook page that the sea lion had turned up early for a reservation, said it was the first time anything like this had happened. “A few times we have had big boys like the big sea lion standing in front of the door,” he said. “But they never made it inside.”
The restaurant staff called the Sea World San Diego rescue team, which took the 8-month-old pup to its rescue center. Weighing only 20 pounds and about the size of a small dog, it is considered a micro pup because it is about half the weight it should be for its age.
Despite its sickly state, Sea World officials told FoxNews.com that they were cautiously optimistic that they could nurse it back to health and eventually return it to the wild. It is currently in Sea World’s rehabilitation center, where veterinarians and animal care specialist are stabilizing the pup and hydrating it.
Sea World officials believe the sea lion found into its way into the restaurant a warm, dry place to rest.
The pup is only the latest young sea lion to turn up in a strange place along the California coast. With high tides as well as warming waters from El Nino limiting the sea lions food supply, they have been increasingly washing up on shore since 2013 - turning up on beaches and found wandering on California city streets.
In San Diego alone, Sea World has rescued 40 sea lions already this year and 990 in all of 2015 – a record number of rescues in a year.