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Fact Sheet


A World Class Marine Mammal Research Hospital and Educational Center


Since its inception in 1975 The Marine Mammal Center, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) registered organization headquartered in Sausalito, California, has rescued and treated more than 17,500 elephant seals, sea lions, sea otters, and other marine mammals that get stranded along 600 miles of California coast, and conducted research about marine mammal health conditions. The center is able to accomplish this amazing feat thanks to a small staff and more than 1,100 dedicated volunteers. On average, the Center rescues 500-700 marine mammals each year. Animals are rescued for a variety of reasons, including malnourishment, separation, entanglements, and human interactions as well as diseases. The Center's robust education programs teach approximately 30,000 students and adults each year, with the goals of inspiring ocean conservation and showing the interdependence we all share with marine mammals and the ocean.

A New Era:

In the fall of 2005, the Center embarked on an ambitious project to rebuild its headquarters in order to accommodate the medical needs and demands of its patients as well as upgrade facilities that were more than 30 years old. In June 2009, The Marine Mammal Center dedicated the first purpose-built marine mammal hospital in the nation. The new $32 million headquarters includes animal care, education, and administrative buildings surrounding a central courtyard. This design will allow visitors to see more of the day-to-day work of staff and volunteers. Exhibits throughout the headquarters explain the Center's role in studying marine mammal health and providing expert care to pinniped patients.

Facility Highlights:

  • Better Hospital: New pens and pools are designed to meet the different needs of seals, sea lions, sea otters, and other marine mammal species; intensive care and quarantine areas designed for the most sensitive patients.
  • Modern Research Facilities: An on-site lab that will reduce time for diagnosis and initiating treatment.
  • Improved Public Access: The 'transparent' design will allow visitors to see the real behind-the-scenes work at the Center and gain an understanding of marine mammal and ocean health; also includes classrooms and meeting space for our visiting students and public.

Animal Care:

The Marine Mammal Medical Center brings together all of the necessary functions for marine mammal diagnosis, treatment and husbandry including: animal food preparation, the pharmacy, chart room, laboratory; and necropsy, which will have space to house the post-mortem tissue and serum bank and research activities.

As part of enhancing the visitor experience to the Center, glass viewing windows allow visitors to observe these functions.

An advanced Life Support System will expand capacity from 47,000 to 207,000 gallons of water, while overall water consumption will be the same or less due to new system efficiencies. In a wonderful example of adaptive re-use, the new Life Support System is housed in one of the two former Nike missile silos on the Center's grounds.

The animal pens and pools will be upgraded as well, replacing existing structures with new pens and pools built for the specific physical and medical needs of each marine mammal species the Center treats. The new configurability of the pens and pools will allow veterinarians to treat more patients while maintaining top health standards.


The New Veterinary Science and Research Center is home to the veterinary science and research staff offices. Visiting scholars, Ph.D. fellowship students, and externs from around the world visit for extended periods to conduct marine mammal health research and access the Center's database and tissue bank - an archive of records spanning over 20 years.


The new Community Education Building will be the primary visitor entry point and includes a marine science discovery area with interpretive exhibits, an indoor classroom, and a retail store on the ground level. Additionally, a level viewing deck above the Animal Care building allows visitors a closer look at the patients yet maintain the proper hospital setting needed for rehabilitation.

  • The multi-use classroom and discovery area are expandable to accommodate formal and informal educational activities for both students and the public.
  • As part of enhancing the visitor experience to the new Center, glass windows on the rehabilitation facilities will allow visitors to observe these functions.

Going Green:

The Center's new headquarters incorporates eco-friendly elements and functions including:

  • 20KW's of photovoltaic panels on pen shade structures
  • High efficiency radiant floor heating
  • Use of skylights and windows for natural light and ventilation (no forced ventilation in offices)
  • Landscaping with native plantings that require no irrigation
  • 50% of the lumber certified by the Forest Stewardship Council
  • Concrete contains 5% fly ash, a residue generated from the combustion of coal
  • Structural steel and wall framing systems ranging from 30% to 95% recycled content
  • All project casework fabricated from recycled and/or sustainable materials
  • All furniture is manufactured from recycled and/or sustainable materials
  • All paint and epoxy coatings are of low volatile organic compounds (VOC)
  • Building insulation with minimum 10% recycled glass
  • Cement board siding made from recycled paper
  • Gypsum board with 5% recycled content and 100% recycled paper
  • Acoustic ceiling panels made from seaweed
  • Efficient, low water consumption fixtures and faucets
  • Restrooms with water free urinals and dual flush toilets
  • High pressure wash down system in pens/pool area to reduce water consumption
  • Highly efficient water treatment systems that recycle water in patient pools
  • Variable speed pumps on life support systems to reduce electrical use
  • Use of pervious concrete in parking areas, which mitigates pollutants that can contaminate watersheds and harm sensitive ecosystems, as well as eliminate hydrocarbon pollution from asphalt pavements and sealers. This will reduce the amount of untreated runoff discharged into the sewage system


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