SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — SeaWorld released four sea lions back into the wild Thursday after rehabilitating at the park.
The sea lion pups were found malnourished and dehydrated on various local beaches between December 2019 and January 2020. While in SeaWorld's care, the animals doubled their weight.
Animal care experts returned the sea lions to the ocean about five miles off the coast of San Diego.
SeaWorld says it's been a busier than normal season of animal rescues around Southern California, adding ages in animals have also differed. The park says normally this early in the season it's not unusual to rescue adult and sub-adult animals. But this year, the majority of rescues have been pups and yearlings.
"It’s difficult to determine what may be causing an increase in strandings, however, winter storms could impact the ability of young, inexperienced sea lions from successfully foraging for food," the park said in a release. "While the early season surge in rescues is not necessarily an indication of what might be anticipated in the months ahead, the SeaWorld Rescue Team has made sure all its rescue gear and supplies are ready to go and that it can respond to all ill, injured and stranded marine animals."
SeaWorld said earlier this month the rescue season usually begins in March.
If you see an animal in need of rescue, SeaWorld says keep your distance and call their rescue hot line at 1-800-541-SEAL.