It’s easy to joke about this baby sea lion in San Diego having a taste for the finer things of life. After all, the marine animal wandered in from the beach, entered a fancy restaurant called The Marine Room via the cleaning crew door, and seated itself in a booth. Unfortunately, the reason the baby sea lion entered the restaurant at all was because it was extremely malnourished, almost starving to death. SeaWorld California came to the rescue, but the poor thing is still listed as being in “critical” condition as of this publishing. Critics are also claiming that SeaWorld will “enslave” the pup in its theme park.
Chef Bernard Guillas of The Marine Room shared the multiple photos of the stranded baby sea lion on Facebook. The staff believes the lost pup may have been looking for some food.
“We found this little guy in The Marine Room restaurant this morning,” Guillas explained. “He was a little bit early for his high tide breakfast reservation as it is this weekend on Sunday and Monday.”
The Facebook post quickly went viral, with many comments turning the situation into a joke.
“He went to the right place for some good eats!” wrote one person.
“Aww, poor little kid. He must have needed some rest and lobster bisque,” another replied.
The situation was no joking matter, so restaurant workers called in a rescue team from SeaWorld San Diego to take the baby sea lion pup in. They captured the barking sea lion from its booth and placed it inside a net.
“SeaWorld came to the aid of this young sea lion this morning and she is now in the care of our amazing Rescue Team,” SeaWorld wrote on Facebook.
According to Reuters, David Koontz, a spokesperson for the SeaWorld tourist center, said the baby sea lion was about 8-months-old but weighed less than 20 pounds, which is half than its expected weight. Koontz says the rescue staff is “guardedly optimistic” that they can nurse the sea lion pup back to health.
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But there is some controversy surrounding the incident since some people believe SeaWorld San Diego will “enslave” the sea lion for use in its theme park.
“SeaWorld? Are you serious? He will never swim free again. With all the animal rescue groups around you call the one that doesn’t rescue. Very sad,” one person claimed on Facebook.
“Sad. Seaworld will enslave him,” wrote another.
SeaWorld’s reputation has taken quite a hit ever since the Blackfish documentary criticized SeaWorld’s killer whale attractions after trainer Dawn Brancheau was killed by Tilikum, an orca at SeaWorld Orlando. According to the Associated Press, attendance at SeaWorld San Diego dropped the most so the company decided to have the Shamu show canceled.
“The theatrical production of the show in that market is what they wanted to see less of,” SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby said back in November of 2015 when speaking about the theme park’s customers. “But it’s not universal across our properties. They want the orca experience to be activities the whales do in the wild. Things they perceive as tricks, they don’t like as well.”
Animal rights activists claimed the decision was merely a marketing gimmick and demanded that SeaWorld stop holding killer whales at all.
“An end to SeaWorld’s tawdry circus-style shows is inevitable and necessary, but it’s captivity that denies these far-ranging orcas everything that is natural and important to them,” PETA’s Jared Goodman said. “This move is like no longer whipping lions in a circus act but keeping them locked inside cages for life.”
In the case of the lost sea lion pup, the poor marine animal will not be incorporated into one of SeaWorld’s theme parks. Koontz says the plan is to return the sea lion to the wild as soon as it’s recovered enough.
[Image via Facebook]