During the entire month of November, the Minnesota Zoo​ will be sharing stories of the many rescued and rehabilitated animals that we care for. All of our animals receive amazing care from zoo staff, volunteers and community members. All of this work is made possible because of YOUR amazing support – thank you! Check back daily as we feature a new story from around the Zoo.

Our five Hawaiian monk seals were welcomed to their new home in Discovery Bay this May, 2015. The monkseal2seals, “Nani”, “Paki”, “Koa”, “Ola” and “Opua” were rescued at a young age and brought to a rehabilitation center because they were not finding enough to eat in their natural habitat. Limited food resources is a big concern for young Hawaiian monk seals. During the rehabilitation process, some of them developed eye problems: with limited vision, they are considered non-releasable and have “retired” to their home at the Minnesota Zoo.

These tropical seals are frequently found lounging pool side or gliding effortlessly as they spiral through the water – over 1.1 million gallon of filtered salt water. They even have unique personalities: some enjoy munching on ice and popsicles with fish frozen inside, while some (like Paki) enjoy a “water massage” as caregivers spray water from a hose for them to swim through. In addition, Ola vocalizes “Baaahhh” to get her trainers’ attention, and Nani loves toys.

The seals’ meals are prepared daily by animal care staff and each seal is hand fed their daily rations. Their favorite snacks include herring, which some seals prefer to be fed tail first! Join the Minnesota Zoo on a Travel EdVenture to Hawaii this spring and learn more about Hawaiian monk seals and their natural habitat!

Did you know? Seals have bodies shaped like torpedoes, a great shape for moving swiftly through water. A seal uses its front flippers for steering, and its powerful hind flippers to propel itself. On land, the seals look less graceful, as they inch along like caterpillars. Hawaiian monk seals can stay underwater for 20 minutes if sleeping, and when awake, can dive to depths of over 1,800 feet. Once a year they shed their fur and upper layer of skin, a process known as “molting.”