SAN DIEGO (CBSLA.com) — A motorist who thought he saw a dog in the middle of a busy road got quite a surprise when he pulled up to a baby sea lion Wednesday morning.
When the driver opened his car door, the pup crawled into the front seat of the vehicle.
Dave Koontz of Sea World says the park’s animal care team was then able to rescue the sea lion, which managed to move into the back seat.
“This was a rather unusual rescue,” Koontz told KNX1070′s Tom Reopelle. “Occasionally, we do see something like this. We’ve done a couple rescues here in just the past week where one was from a courtyard of a hotel in La Jolla; we also rescued a sea lion pup the other day from a private home in their garden.”
The pup, which was dehydrated and malnourished, is being cared for at Sea World.
Earlier this week, federal officials declared an “unusual mortality event” after hundreds of California sea lion pups have become stranded in Southern California.
The move by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) comes after what the agency described as “elevated strandings of California sea lion pups” in Los Angeles, Orange, Santa Barbara, Ventura, and San Diego counties.
Since Jan. 1, more than 900 sea lions have been admitted to rehabilitation facilities, far outpacing historical stranding rates for 2008 to 2012, according to NOAA.
San Diego’s KFMB also reports a sea lion was rescued from a shopping center in Imperial Beach earlier this week.