Malnourished seal found sleeping in restaurant

Posted at 7:09 PM, Feb 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-06 11:06:47-05

Staff at a high-end La Jolla, California, restaurant got a surprise Thursday morning when they found a seal sitting in one of the restaurant’s booths.

The sea lion pup was found sleeping in a booth at The Marine Room, a beach-side restaurant where dinner entrees start at $28.

Restaurant staff called SeaWorld San Diego's rescue hotline after discovering the sea lion.

"When we arrived on site, there was a back door that had been open and there’s a ramp that leads from the back of the restaurant to the beach," SeaWorld San Diego Rescue Team Member Jody Westberg told ABC News. "That’s how we suspect the pup got in."

"Sea lions are great climbers too and can even go up and down stairs," she said.

The sea lion, an 8-month-old female, was malnourished and dehydrated.

SeaWorld is nursing the pup back to health at the park's Animal Rescue Center. Westberg said officials there have named the pup Marina in honor of the restaurant in which she was found.

"She is basically back down to what she would be at her birth weight," Westberg said of Marina. "We're rehydrating her and today we started feeding her a fish formula slurry."

"As she gets a little more stable our veterinarians will be able to do a little more diagnostic testing," she said. "We really want to give this animal her second chance at life and get her returned to the wild."

Westberg said the staff at The Marine Room did "everything right" after finding the pup in their restaurant.

"They called our hotline right away and asked what they should do and we said stay away from the animal, just keep a safe distance, until we get there," Westberg said.