The search for kidnappers who took a sea lion pup from a Southern California beach has intensified as a reward for the culprit's arrest doubled on Monday to $10,000.
The sea lion pup was snatched from Dockweiler State Beach around 3:30 a.m. on April 19 after being harassed by a group of people who were seen throwing rocks and cinder blocks at the pup.
A witness reported the group had carried the sea lion away from the beach in a blanket, put the baby animal in the trunk of a black Honda Civic and drove off, Los Angeles police said. The license plate number may have ended in numbers 5 and 6.
PETA announced a $5,000 reward last week for information to help nab the sea lion pup's kidnappers. On Monday, Shera Danese, the widow of longtime PETA supporter Peter Falk, doubled the reward to $10,000, according to a PETA statement.
"Someone knows who was out on the beach that night, who stole the pup, and who drove away, separating this vulnerable baby from his or her mother and the sea," PETA Senior Director Martin Mersereau said in a statement. "PETA is calling on anyone with any clues about this case to contact the authorities immediately so that these cruel people can be held responsible for their crimes."
When officers arrived to the beach the morning of the sea lion kidnapping, they found a second sea lion trying to make its way out of some bushes and back to shore. That pup was able to escape the attackers and was picked up by Marine Animal Rescue.
A witness described the group as two men and two women in their early to mid-20s, last seen heading south on Vista Del Mar in a black Honda Civic. according to PETA.
Anyone with information about this case is encouraged to contact the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's hotline at 1-800-853-1964.