MINNESOTA ZOO WELCOMES CRITICALLY ENDANGERED, RESCUED HAWAIIAN MONK SEALS Less than 1,100 remain in the wild; Zoo only public viewing location outside of Hawaii
Exclusive Media Preview Tomorrow:
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
9 11:30 a.m. (please note: seals will be fed at 9:30 a.m.)
Apple Valley, MINN May 12, 2015 On Memorial Weekend, five critically endangered, non-releasable rescued Hawaiian monk seals will make their public debut at the Minnesota Zoo, the only location in the continental United States where the public can see these amazing animals. The Zoo will host an exclusive preview on Wednesday, May 13 from 9-11:30 a.m. for the media to learn about these special marine mammals and the other new features being unveiled in the newly renovated Discovery Bay exhibit.
Moon jellyfish are also making their debut, along with the return of sea dragons, live coral, sea horses, shrimp and other marine life in a variety of awe-inspiring habitats. These fascinating creatures are presented with the new interpretive theme Our Oceans, Our Choices, designed to inspire awareness and a desire to act on behalf of ocean wildlife.
Said Minnesota Zoo President/Director Lee Ehmke: The Minnesota Zoo is excited to host a group of critically endangered Hawaiian monk seals in a completely reimagined Discovery Bay. These animals, all now in human care due to visual impairments that render them unreleasable, will serve as ambassadors representing their wild relatives and help to highlight threats to ocean wildlife globally. Together with other new and improved exhibits in Discovery Bay, the monk seals will help bring the ocean to Minnesota.
There are only two species of monk seals left in the world the Hawaiian and the Mediterranean and both species are considered endangered. In 2008 a third species the Caribbean monk seal was officially declared extinct because none had been seen since the early 1950s. It has been estimated that only 1,100 Hawaiian monk seals are left in existence, and that number is still declining. Monk seals are one of the most solitary species of seal, and they spend a great percent of their time in the water. They get their name from both their solitary nature and the rolls of skin on the back of their head that can look like a monks cowl. In the wild they eat a variety of fish, octopus, squid and crustaceans.
The Hawaiian monk seal has been listed as an endangered species since 1976. Current population estimates of 1,100 animals represent a rapid decline since the late 1950s. Adult Hawaiian monk seals measure approximately seven feet in length and weigh between 400 and 600 pounds.
Adults Only After Hours Event: May 22, 4:30-8:00
This is an opportunity for adults who prefer to experience the Minnesota Zoo without children to preview the new exhibits in Discovery Bay, including the Hawaiian Monk seals. The event will include Hawaiian entertainment, cash bar and 20% off at all food locations. Free for adult Zoo members; $10 for adult non-members and parking is included (please note: no one under the age of 18 will be admitted, including infants). For more information, visit mnzoo.org.
Opening Weekend Activities: May 23 25
- Hawaiian monk seal demonstrations 12:00, 2:00 & 4:00 p.m.
- Aloha Chicago musical entertainment 11:30 a.m., 12:30 & 1:30 p.m.
- Family activity Discovery Bay 11:00 a.m. 2:00 p.m.
- Face painting and monk seal tattoos 11:00 a.m. 2:00 p.m.
- Lau Hawaiian Collective musical entertainment 2:30 & 3:30 p.m. (Monday only)
- H?lau Hula O N?punaheleon?pua dancers 10:00 & 11:00 a.m. (Monday only)
- Reusable water bottle giveaway (while supplies last)
The Minnesota Zoo gratefully acknowledges Think Mutual Bank for sponsoring the summer promotion of Hawaiian monk seals.
The Minnesota Zoo is located in Apple Valley, just minutes south of Mall of America. Open year round, the Zoo is one of the States premier cultural attractions serving 1.2 million visitors annually. With a mission to connect people, animals and the natural world to save wildlife, the Zoo is a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). Learn more at mnzoo.org or by calling 952.431.9500.