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Sea lion pup found inside La Jolla restaurant to be returned to ocean

Marina, the sea lion pup

Marina, the sea lion pup

(Debbi Baker / San Diego Union-Tribune)

The sea lion pup who became a San Diego celebrity after roaming into a La Jolla restaurant will be returned to her ocean home Tuesday.

Dubbed Marina, the doe-eyed pup was about 8 months old when she sneaked into the Marine Room restaurant and helped herself to a booth where she was taking a nap when restaurant employees found her Feb. 4.

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She was malnourished and dehydrated and weighed in at just 20 pounds, just half the size of a typical pup her age, SeaWorld officials said at the time. She also had some trauma to one of her eyes, which was swollen shut.

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After two months of rehabilitation, the pup has been nursed back to health and has gained more than 25 pounds. Officials said she has also shown that she is ready to return to the ocean because she has demonstrated she can forage for food on her own.

The pup, along with several other rescued sea lions, will be taken several miles out to sea, where they will be released. Marine Room chef Bernard Guillas, who visited the pup several times while she recovered, will be on hand to bid her farewell.

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Baker writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune

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