CRIME

Police: Seal or sea lion pup taken from Los Angeles beach, but cute doesn't mean friendly

This photo provided by Peter Wallerstein of Marine Mammal Rescue shows a sea lion pup at a MMR facility in the Playa Del Rey area of Los Angeles Sunday, April 19, 2015. It's one of two pups that were found on Dockweiler State Beach just west of Los Angeles International Airport. Witnesses say another pup was abducted from Dockweiler by four people who wrapped the pup in a blanket and left in a car around 3:20 a.m. early Sunday. This pup was found hiding there a short time later. The rescued pup weighs about 25 pounds and is probably 10 months old, said Wallerstein.(Peter  Wallerstein/Marine Mammal Rescue via AP)

This photo provided by Peter Wallerstein of Marine Mammal Rescue shows a sea lion pup at a MMR facility in the Playa Del Rey area of Los Angeles Sunday, April 19, 2015. It's one of two pups that were found on Dockweiler State Beach just west of Los Angeles International Airport. Witnesses say another pup was abducted from Dockweiler by four people who wrapped the pup in a blanket and left in a car around 3:20 a.m. early Sunday. This pup was found hiding there a short time later. The rescued pup weighs about 25 pounds and is probably 10 months old, said Wallerstein.(Peter Wallerstein/Marine Mammal Rescue via AP)  (The Associated Press)

Whoever snatched a seal or sea lion pup from a Los Angeles beach early Sunday should not be fooled by the animal's cuteness — they could suffer a vicious bite, an animal rescue expert said.

A witness to the abduction said four people wrapped the pup in a blanket and left in a car around 3:20 a.m. from Dockweiler State Beach, just west of the city's international airport, said Los Angeles Police Officer Rosario Herrera. The witness said the two men and two women in their early to mid-20s were harassing and taunting the animal prior to the abduction.

The initial police report said the animal was a small seal. But a companion pup that escaped and was later found on the beach is a sea lion, according to Peter Wallerstein, the president of the group Marine Animal Rescue.

The rescued pup weighs about 25 pounds and is probably 10 months old, said Wallerstein, who stays in a trailer at the beach and was woken by security guards seeking his help. Sea lions of this size are "really small, really look cute, but they're dangerous," he said. "These are wild animals."

They're also not fit to be kept as pets.

"The animal needs fluids, needs special treatments," he said. "You can't just feed it dog food. It's not going to work."

The federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is investigating the abduction because baby sea lions are a protected species. Police began a cruelty to animal investigation.