Monk seal hospital to open on Big Island

Published On: Dec 19 2013 11:05:37 AM HST

The Marine Mammal Center near the airport in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island.

KONA, Hawaii -

A new hospital on the Big Island dedicated to saving Hawaiian monk seals is expected to open next summer.

The Marine Mammal Center, an animal rescue group based in California, will open a hospital near the airport in Kailua-Kona.

The $3.2 million hospital will feature four pools and staff who will treat and take care of injured Hawaiian monk seals.

"With this facility we'll be able to do our part with colleagues in Hawaii to see if we can't counter what has been occurring with the drop in Hawaiian monk seal population," said Dr. Jeff Boehm of the Mammal Center.

There are only 1,100 monk seals left in the population and Boehm says its declining at a rate of 4%  every year.

The hospital was originally supposed to open this month, but was delayed because of funding problems.

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