California Wildlife Center constructing temporary shelter for beached sea lions and elephant seals

With the number of beached sea lion and elephant seal at record levels in Los Angeles County, work got underway Thursday to build a temporary rehab facility at the California Wildlife Center (CWC). The shelter is designed to house up to 30 elephant seals or 60 sea lions.

Costs to build the shelter are estimated at $100,000, and the CWC is asking the public to chip in to raise $25,000 to tack on to $75,000 secured in federal funding. Officials estimate construction will take two weeks.

To date, the CWC has $60,000 in hand from federal and private donors. Despite not having the full $100,000 yet, the center decided to start on construction now in the hopes of meeting the funding goal within the next two weeks.

“We’re just gonna keep our fingers crossed and hope the public steps up and help us get across the finish line,” said CWC Executive Director Cindy Reyes. 

The National Marine Fisheries asked the CWC to set up a temporary rehabilitation center at its center in Calabasas because the Marine Mammal Care Center (MMCC) in San Pedro, Calif. has struggled to house the large number of northern elephant seals and California sea lion pups rescued this year.

According to Reyes, the temporary site will primarily serve as an elephant seal shelter, though it would be suited to house sea lions as well.

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“It’d be able to hold about 30 elephant seals and a few seals … and for every elephant seal you could put two sea lions there, it’ll just depend on the need,” Reyes said.

Approximately 1,000 malnourished sea lions have been picked up in Southern California this year, with 118 of them from Malibu, according to Victoria Harris, board president of the CWC.

In the last few weeks, Reyes said calls have thankfully slowed down.

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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