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Volunteers Sought to Aid Sea Mammals : Animals: The new facility for injured animals is set to open in the fall. It will offer long-term care once provided by Marineland.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

An environmental group is looking for volunteers to help get injured or stranded seals, sea lions and other marine mammals back on their feet--or rather, their flippers--at the soon-to-be-completed marine mammal hospital and convalescent center in Angels Gate Park in San Pedro.

“It’s going to be hard work” for the volunteers, said Connie Lufkin-Barr, director of ORCAS (Organization for the Respect and Care of Animals of the Sea), the group that will operate the $1.5-million marine mammal care facility. The center will provide treatment and care for the scores--or even hundreds--of sick, injured or stranded marine mammals found on Los Angeles County beaches every year.

“The volunteers’ duties will range from feeding the animals to perhaps giving injections to cleaning cages to stuffing envelopes,” Lufkin-Barr said. “At the end of a shift you’ll know you’ve worked. But it’s a chance to do something new and interesting.”

Experience in caring for marine mammals or other animals isn’t necessary, Lufkin-Barr said. The volunteers will be trained in basic marine mammal care and will work with veterinarians and animal care specialists. The only requirements are that the volunteers be at least 18 years old and willing to commit to working at least one day every two weeks.

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In addition to the “animal care support crew,” Lufkin-Barr said, the care facility also is looking for other people to help out with public tours of the facility, community awareness programs, transporting animals and other activities. The new facility will be almost 100% “volunteer driven,” she said. She added that “interest and energy are two skills we can always use.”

The new facility, scheduled for opening sometime in early fall, will fill the gap left by the closure of Marineland in 1987. That closure left the Los Angeles area with no long-term care facility for marine mammals found hurt or stranded on area beaches. Since then, injured animals have been trucked to Sea World in San Diego for long-term treatment before being returned to the sea.

The new long-term care facility at Angels Gate Park, a joint venture of the Los Angeles Unified School District and Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Inc., former owners of Marineland, will feature five swimming pools for its patients, as well as surgical and rehabilitation facilities and classrooms.

An orientation for volunteers will be held early next month, Lufkin-Barr said. For more information, or for application forms, call ORCAS at (310) 544-9886.


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