A sea lion pup was rescued by California Highway Patrol officers after she was spotted trying to cross the 710 Freeway in Long Beach last week, authorities said.
Officers responded to the freeway about 2 a.m. Jan. 31 after getting a call from a passing driver, California Highway Patrol said.
“The Officers were able to secure the pup in the back of a CHP Patrol Vehicle using a snare and a blanket,” CHP said on Instagram.
The underweight pup was handed over to animal control and then taken to the Marine Mammal Care Center in San Pedro, where she remains in stable condition.
“She’s socializing with other pups and eating fish out of the pool, which is a good sign,” the center’s president, Amber Becerra, told KTLA Friday.
Researchers believe the sea lion is around 8 months old.
Becerra said it’s unknown why the sea lion ended up on the freeway, or how she got that far from the beach, but said that this sometimes happens when the babies are separated from their mothers and become hungry and dehydrated, which leads them to become disoriented.
There have been several incidents where a sea lion pup was rescued from a roadway, and one case, one had wandered into a bar in Redondo Beach, according to Becerra.
“So they’re just out of it and are just looking for help anywhere they can and just get lost in random places,” Becerra said.
The pups sometimes face prolonged separation their mothers when the water gets warmer and mothers have to swim out deeper to be able to find fish to eat.
Last December, a sea lion pup was rescued after surviving a 30-foot drop from a bridge onto the Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach.
After sea lions are rescued, the Marine Mammal Care Center usually keeps the pups for about two months while they teach them how to hunt and feed themselves so that they can survive after they are released back into the wild.
The center, which has been nursing seals and sea lions back to health in Southern California for nearly three decades, is at risk of shutting down due to financial problems.
“If we do close, then these animals won’t have anywhere to go,” Becerra said. The center is accepting donations to help continue providing care for sea lions and seals.
Community members can visit the marine center to meet the sea lion pup as she continues her recovery.