Sea lion pup stolen from beach by group who 'harassed and taunted' it
The people who snatched a sea lion pup from a Los Angeles beach have been warned they risk suffering a severe bite.
A witness said four people wrapped the pup in a blanket and left in a car around 3.20am local time yesterday from Dockweiler State Beach, just west of the city's international airport.
The two men and two women in their early to mid-20s were harassing and taunting the animal prior to the abduction, Los Angeles Police Officer Rosario Herrera said.
The initial police report said the animal was a small seal.
But a companion pup that escaped and was later found on the beach is a sea lion, according to Peter Wallerstein, the president of the group Marine Animal Rescue.
The rescued pup weighs about 25lbs and is probably 10 months old, said Mr Wallerstein, who stays in a trailer at the beach and was woken by security guards seeking his help.
Sea lions of this size are "really small, really look cute, but they're dangerous," he said. "These are wild animals."
They have strong bites and are not fit to be kept as pets, he warned.
"The animal needs fluids, needs special treatments," he said. "You can't just feed it dog food. It's not going to work."
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is investigating the abduction because baby sea lions are a protected species. Police began a cruelty to animal investigation.