A California sea lion is recovering at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito after taking a bullet to the back.
The sea lion, "Nezzie," was found wounded on a beach in Santa Barbara County in late October and transferred to the Bay Area for rehabilitation.
“He was very emaciated, very underweight, and very weak and lethargic,” said the mammal center’s Shelbi Stoudt.
Nezzie isn't the only sea lion that's become a target.
“It's very disheartening to think that somebody would intentionally hurt a seal or sea lion,” said Stoudt. “Approximately 3 percent of California sea lions annually are affected by gunshot injuries.”
The folks at the Marine Mammal Center said they have seen a handful of similar cases each year, including a sea lion found lifeless on a beach in Sausalito in 2010. Another sea lion was shot in the face in Yolo County and now lives at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo.
It's unclear what Nezzie's future holds, but officials said he is eating and little by little gaining strength.
“He is improving,” said Veterinarian Dr. Greg Frankfurter. “He's gaining weight and seems to be moving better overall. It’s our hope he'll be released and be able to survive again in the wild.”