Ke Kai Ola is a new hospital for a critically endangered species! Until the opening of Ke Kai Ola in September, 2014, there was no place for Hawaiian monk seals to get help in Hawaii when they were sick or injured.
The Marine Mammal Center and the Hawaii Wildlife Fund joined forces to raise $3.2 million to build Ke Kai Ola, a Hawaiian monk seal healthcare facility in Kona, on the Big Island. For the last decade, The Marine Mammal Center has worked closely with government agencies and other nonprofits to provide medical assistance to monk seals, often flying out teams of its veterinarians, veterinary technicians and members of its trained volunteer corps to provide hands-on medical care in temporary and makeshift facilities in Hawaii.
The Marine Mammal Center knows full well the value and necessity of a hospital dedicated to the medical care of sick and injured marine mammals; in 2009 we opened a new hospital in California that allowed us to care for more than 1,700 animals that same year (that's more than the total number of monk seals alive today).
Although The Marine Mammal Center is responsible for rescuing marine mammals along more than 600 miles of coastline in California, we care about all marine mammals, and have always been willing to help provide care or assistance for species around the world.
It is in this spirit that The Marine Mammal Center and the Hawaii Wildlife Fund, collaborative organizations with the National Marine Fisheries Service of NOAA, opened the new urgent healthcare facility for Hawaiian monk seals on land leased from the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA). This facility will provide emergency medical care to sick and injured monk seals, and will be used to help baby seals successfully reach the age of three, after which their survival rate increases to 70%.