As previously reported, West Coast sea lions are suffering an "unusual mortality event" that has sent their pups out of the water and onto city streets. That "event" hit San Francisco this morning, when a National Park Ranger rescued an emaciated young sea lion near Fort Funston.
According to National Park spokesperson Alexandra Picavet, at around 7:10 this morning, National Park Ranger Wallat was driving along Skyline Drive, near Fort Funston in Golden Gate National Recreation Area, when he came across two Good Samaritans who had "stopped to protect a California sea lion pup that was on the side of the road."
"The pup had crossed Skyline Drive just south of the turnoff to the Great Highway," Picavet says. According to KCBS, it's not clear how the pup got to that spot, "which is a considerable distance from the beach," but "it’s not surprising he got so far inland as the sea lions are looking for food."
Wallat blocked traffic with his vehicle, as he and the Samaritans tried to load the pup, who rescuers named Percevero, into a crate for transport.
Though Picavet says Percevero was starved to the point that he only weighs 28 lbs, instead of the 40 he should, he still had some spark left in him, fighting Wallat and biting the blankets being used to coax him into the crate.
After the scuffle, Percevero, who had no visible injuries, was transported to San Rafael's Marine Mammal Center for treatment, joining about 115 other California Sea lion pups presently in treatment there for malnutrition and starvation.
Dr. Shawn Johnson, the director of Veterinary Science at the Marine Mammal Center, told KCBS that “He’s just one of the hundred little sea lion pups that we’ve rescued in the last 10 days. We’re having an onslaught of these little pups-they’re being pre-weened and basically abandoned by their mothers and they’re just coming ashore and they’re extremely emaciated and basically starving to death.”
But things are looking up for Percevero, as Johnson believes he can be saved after treatment, hydration, and food.
"There’s a good chance we can get him healthy and get him back out in the ocean in the next few weeks," Johnson said.