Kona monk seal hospital on track to open this year

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KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) - Officials say the first phase of a $3.2 million hospital for monk seals on the Big Island is set to open by the end of this year.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Monday that the hospital run by the Marine Mammal Center of Sausalito, Calif., will include four pools to care for monk seals.

Hawaiian monk seals are close to extinction. The seals' population is about 1,100 and declining about 4 percent per year.

The executive director of the Marine Mammal Center says center officials saw a timely need. Jeff Boehm says they believe helping the animals in need is the right thing to do.

The center is planning a second phase to the hospital including lab space and a visitor and education center.

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