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Starving Sea Lion Pup Found Sleeping In Booth Of Swank Restaurant

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A malnourished sea lion pup was discovered sleeping in the booth of a San Diego restaurant early Thursday morning.

The sickly and dehydrated pup was discovered by employees at the Marine Room in La Jolla around 8 a.m., just before opening, reports the L.A. Times. A rescue team from Sea World was called in to assist with the 8-month-old female California sea lion, who at only 20 pounds—half the normal weight for her age—is considered a "micro pup."

The pup was taken by the Sea World team to a rescue center, where she was given fluids and found to have one eye that was swollen shut. Rescuers are "cautiously optimistic" that she will recover. "We hope to get her rehabilitated and back out into the wild," a SeaWorld spokesperson informed CBS. "She's getting lots of fluids."

Photos of the pup, who may have heard that shopping in the areawas great, were shared on Facebook by the restaurant's executive chef. And, of course, some have already become memes.

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Marine Room manager Matt Caponi said that the pup may have found its way into the restaurant through a back door left open by an employee earlier in the morning.

"Maybe [she] thought we were open for high-tide breakfast, but we weren't," he said. "We told [her] to come back for the weekend."

Officials from Sea World say that warming waters from El Niño and high tides have reduced the available food supply for sea lions. As a result, mothers must search for food further away, leaving behind pups who are too young to hunt on their own and often wind up stranded on beaches—or in restaurants—if they manage to survive. Forty sea lions have already been rescued in San Diego this year, and 990 were rescued in 2015.

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