Dubbing it as “rescuing the rescuers,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn on Monday, Jan. 13, donated $100,000 to help San Pedro’s struggling Mammal Care Center.
“I’ve lived in San Pedro almost 30 years now, and this has been such a huge part of our community,” Hahn said on a late afternoon visit to the facility.
Hahn’s donation, which the supervisor said she hopes will inspire others to also give, came from her office’s discretionary-use funds.
The center in Angel’s Gate Park has been a hospital and rehabilitation facility for injured and sick sea lions and elephant seals since 1992. Once they are rehabilitated, the animals are released back into the wild.
Earlier this month, the center’s board of directors said $1 million would be needed by June to keep the hospital open for the next fiscal year. The announcement came after an internal review of the center’s financial status and subsequent cost-cutting that slashed the annual budget from $1.6 million to $1 million.
Higher infrastructure and operating costs, declining donations and a five-year Unusual Mortality Rate for sea lions have strained the center’s budget in recent years, board members said, leaving it vulnerable to possible closure if it doesn’t regain its financial footing.
“I had no idea they were struggling,” Hahn said. “The work here is invaluable.”
Since word got out of the need, donations, many of them small, have started flowing in, said Lauren Palmer, the center’s veterinarian.
Marta Wood, the marine biology teacher at Palos Verdes High School, also stopped by the center on Monday. Students in her classes have long been contributing to the facility by purchasing items on its “wish list.”
The center, she said, “is awesome” and gives people a close-up look at wild creatures outside of a zoo or aquarium environment as they inhabit the outdoor recovery pools.
“It’s a great facility,” Wood said.
In addition to the rehabilitation work, Palmer said, the facility also provides an opportunity for research.
An open house is planned from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 16.