Sea Life Park remembers life, impact of late Hawaiian monk seal

Local News

Sea Life Park’s beloved Hawaiian monk seal, known affectionately as Lambchop, has passed away at age 32.

The park says her health took a sharp decline from age-related kidney disease.

“As one of the oldest known Hawaiian monk seals, Lambchop was a part of our ohana for decades and a favorite among our volunteers and guests,” said Valerie King, general manager of Sea Life Park. “She was a special ambassador for her kind, raising awareness about the threats to the Hawaiian monk seal and sharing her sweet and distinct personality with everyone who had the privilege to care for her. She’ll be deeply missed.”

Lambchop (NOA0005662) was brought to the park in 1987 from the French Frigate Shoals in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. She was extremely emaciated, and estimated to be about two years of age on her arrival. She was rehabilitated back to health under the park’s care.

Over the years, Lambchop was involved in groundbreaking research, including important studies to measure monk seal metabolism and discoveries that would lead to the development of the morbillivirus vaccine currently being utilized on wild-populations. Morbillivirus is widespread and outbreaks of the disease have caused the deaths of tens of thousands of seals worldwide since the 1980s.

“We had a Make-A-Wish child visit with her and that was the child’s one special wish: to get to meet Lambchop,” said Dana Jones, Volunteer Coordinator for the Hawaiian Monk Seal Preservation Ohana. “It was an incredibly special moment. That’s the kind of effect that Lambchop had on everyone, and the kind of legacy she leaves behind.”

“It is always heartbreaking to lose an animal, especially one so dear to us but this is what we want, we want them to get to live to be this age,” said Donna Festa, former President Hawaiian Monk Seal Response Team Oahu.

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