A sea lion is recovering Christmas Day after landing on the Pacific Coast Highway from a pedestrian bridge in Laguna Beach earlier this week, officials said.
The 33-pound sea lion pup crawled along an incline and climbed the stairs leading to the bridge near Aliso Beach at around 6:30 p.m. Monday, Laguna Beach Animal Control told the Orange County Register.
The pinniped ended up on the wall, where it sat for about 40 minutes before it "jumped off," Laguna Beach police Sgt. Jim Cota said on Twitter.
The Pacific Marine Mammal Center, which rescues and rehabilitates aquatic animals, was on the scene.
The group said it promptly sent personnel to the location after city officials contacted them. But right when the rescue team arrived, the animal dropped about 30 feet onto the right shoulder of the highway, the O.C. Register reported.
Fortunately, bushes and branches broke its fall and the sea lion "miraculously survived," PMCC wrote in a Facebook post.
"Laguna Beach locals stuck with the animal on PCH until our team could reposition and capture the animal safely," the post said.
Animal control officials also helped get the sea lion off the road as police redirected traffic, according to PMMC.
The sea lion was eventually taken to the organization's Laguna Canyon facility, where radiographs revealed no apparent injuries, PMMC said.
"This is one seriously lucky sea lion," the group noted. The animal, however, was emaciated and dehydrated, a PMMC veterinarian told the O.C. Register.
PMMC suspects the malnourished animal might have been seeking shelter and trying to stay warm, away from the ocean, the nonprofit's CEO told the newspaper.
The sea lion now remains at PMMC, where caretakers call it "Lords-a-Leaping."