HONOLULU, HI – Beginning Jan. 22, 2018, the Hawaiian Monk Seal exhibit at the Waikīkī Aquarium will temporarily close until Spring 2018 while it undergoes renovations. During this time, the monk seals will be behind the scenes out of public view and special Monk Seal outreach activities will also be offered.

The Waikīkī Aquarium is home to two endangered Hawaiian Monk Seals. Maka onaona (“gentle eyes”), commonly referred to as Maka, is 33 years of age and is the oldest Hawaiian monk seal in captivity. Hō’ailona is almost 10. Abandoned by his mother soon after his birth on Kaua’i in May 2008, he was rescued and cared for by National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists. After they released Hō’ailona about six months later, however, he began interacting with humans instead of other seals, so they once again removed him from the wild. It was soon discovered that he had developed cataracts in both eyes and could not be returned to the wild.

In conjunction with the exhibit’s temporary closure, the Aquarium will host special outreach activities, including daily educational presentations by the Aquarium’s Monk Seal team, monk seal hat making, photo opportunities in front of a large monk seal backdrop, book signings, monthly presentations by the NOAA Monk Seal Recovery team and bi-monthly presentations by the Hawaii Marine Animal Response team.

In addition, artist Patrick Ching will present special workshops featuring keiki activities, monk seal sketching and more. There will also be a Storybook Theatre presentation on March 31st.

Endemic to the Hawaiian Islands, there are currently less than 1,400 Hawaiian monk seals left in the wild. As one of the most critically endangered species in the world, the Waikīkī Aquarium continues to place an emphasis on research aimed at protecting the remaining monk seals and fostering an environment to help rebuild their population.

About the Waikīkī Aquarium

Founded in 1904 and administered by the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa since 1919, the Waikīkī Aquarium is located on the shoreline of Waikīkī Beach next to a living reef and across from Kapiolani Park. The Aquarium – second oldest in the U.S. – showcases more than 500 marine species, and maintains more than 3,500 marine specimens. Public exhibits, education programs and research focus on the unique aquatic life of Hawai‘i and the tropical Pacific. The Aquarium welcomes more than 320,000 visitors annually, and is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. except Honolulu Marathon Sunday and Christmas Day. Admission is $12 for visitors; $8 for local residents and active duty military with ID, $5 for senior citizens and juniors ages four to 12; and free for children three and under and Friends of Waikīkī Aquarium (FOWA) members. For more information about the Waikīkī Aquarium, including membership, call (808) 923-9741 or visit www.waikikiaquarium.org.

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