The 8-month-old pup found her way Thursday into The Marine Room, an upscale restaurant in San Diego, after cleaning crews left a door open, according to Reuters. Executive Chef Bernard Guillas posted photos of the sea lion on his Facebook page, joking that she was early for her reservation.
It soon became clear, though, that the little girl was underfed and needed help. She was starving and dehydrated, SeaWorld San Diego explained in a press release, because El Nino-related environment changes have made it difficult to find food this year.
"While today's rescue is somewhat unorthodox, what isn't surprising is that these young animals are seeking higher, dryer ground," SeaWorld wrote. "Because of high tides, El Nio and an ongoing Unusual Mortality Event with California sea lions, the marine park is continuing to see a higher-than-normal number of strandings on local beaches."
A rescue team was called in to help the pup. It was determined she was severely underweight and dehydrated, and she was taken to SeaWorld's Animal Rescue Center. Experts caring for her are cautiously optimistic she'll make a full recovery.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.