LOS ANGELES (AFP) - A sea lion pup startled guests after waddling from a California beach into a nearby luxury hotel, where it pitched up at the patio bar.
Mr Shane Pappas, manager of the Pantai Inn in La Jolla, said he was alerted when staff found the malnourished animal. "I got an email saying that we had a sea lion pup lounging on our patio," he said.
He checked surveillance cameras, "and sure enough she waddled her way up to the patio," Mr Pappas said, speaking after experts from San Diego's nearby SeaWorld park came to rescue the female creature.
The pup had apparently made its way from a nearby beach, "across the street, up the cobblestone driveway and onto a plush lounge chair in the hotel's open pavilion," he said.
"The poor little girl was lost and malnourished," he added.
Video showed the creature lounging near guests, before being put into a large net and hauled off into a SeaWorld truck.
"We are not sure exactly what route it took to get to the hotel," SeaWorld spokeswoman Terry Kelly told AFP, confirming that the dehydrated creature is "is now on the mend" at SeaWorld's Animal Care Complex.
Experts there have been feeding her through a tube and giving rehydration fluids. They will monitor her for six weeks and then re-release her back into the wild, said the park.