Ke Kai Ola Hospital Heals Hawaiian Monk Seals, Probably Because They Are So Adorable

Animal lovers, here is the best news you will read all day. Last week, Ke Kai Ola veterinary hospital opened in Kona, Hawaii, and it is solely dedicated to the care of the Hawaiian monk seal, a critically endangered species.

The hospital's name means “the healing seal” in Hawaiian, and it's a division of the Marine Mammal Center. It's mission is important — the Hawaiian monk seal population, the only tropical seal population in existence, is estimated at around 1000 seals. Frances Gulland, senior scientist at the center told the LA Times that four out of five seal pups are dying. The causes of these deaths can be traced back to human activity. Lobster, which used to be a main food source for the seals, has been drastically over fished. There have been reports of seals getting caught in marine debris and sick from ingested or embedded fishhooks. As more humans populate the Hawaiian beaches, there are also less places for seals to have their pups, and as the sea level rises, there are fewer islets for the monks to live on, and they are forced to remain in the water, vulnerable to sharks which pray on them. 

The hospital aims to be a haven for injured seals, and will seek out sick seals on the northwestern Hawaiian Islands and nurse them back to health before returning them back to the wild. According to West Hawaii Today, the $3.2 million facility only has one paid employee, but they working on growing their network of volunteers, which is currently made of 50 people.

The September 2 opening ceremony and blessing of the hospital was also the day that they released their first patients, four young seals, back into the wild. Hawaii News Now reports that the Marine Mammal Center has rescued more than 18,500 marine mammals since 1975.

With this new hospital and the Center's track record, this species might stand a chance. To learn more about the hospital and to donate, click here

Image: Noah Sussman/Flickr; Pete Markham/Flickr 

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