Beachgoers came across a sea lion with an open wound Wednesday afternoon on an Oceanside beach.
SeaWorld veterinarians were called to rescue the injured sea lion on the shore near Wisconsin St. They described the animal as lethargic and in distress upon discovery, according to Dave Koontz, SeaWorld spokesperson.
Veterinarians stabilized the sea lion with antibiotics and x-rayed the wound. They found a large bullet fragment lodged in her flipper.
After removing the bullet fragment, veterinarians continued to care for her. She is now in stable condition, but the veterinarians are closely monitoring her.
As of Thursday morning, she was continuing to improve. She began eating, and managed to keep her bandage on -- which is always a challenge with animals, Koontz said.
"She's not quite out of the woods yet, but the animal care team was quite pleased with her progress," Koonz said.
They believe the sea lion is anywhere from five to 10 years old.
Investigators with the National Marine Fisheries Service are investigating the shooting, which they believe may have been an intentional act of cruelty.
Keep up to date on breaking news: Download our improved iPhone app, follow us on Twitter @nbcsandiego, fan us on Facebook, sign up for our breaking news e-mail alerts or text SDBREAKING to 622339 to receive text messages for local breaking news. (For more info, text HELP. To end, text STOP. Message and data rates may apply.)