California Beaches


Feel the Love at the Marine Mammal Care Center in San Pedro

Marine Mammal Care Center
3601 South Gaffey St. #8
San Pedro, California
(310) 548-5677

For 20 years, the Marine Mammal Care Center at Fort MacArthur has been Los Angeles County's hospital for sick, injured, stranded and orphaned animals. The non-profit center at 3601 South Gaffey St. #8 in San Pedro, rehabilitates and returns most of the mammals to their natural environment. If one cannot return to the wild, the center tries to find a caring zoo or aquarium to accommodate it for life.

Many of the animal caregivers are trained volunteers, along with college interns, who show their passion for helping these mammals get healthy and return to the wild. Recently, these individuals, who contribute over 25,000 hours annually to animal care and public education, were assisting 40 sea lions and elephant seals at the facility, which has 13 enclosures.

"Our patients may require as many as 30, 25-pound boxes of herring, sardines, squid or smelt a day," said David Bard, the center's Director of Operations. Sea lions can weigh up to 800 pounds and elephant seals, 4,400 pounds. "We rely on corporate, foundation and community donors for funding (or in-kind contributions) to help feed, provide medicine and rehabilitate these beautiful creatures."

"The rehab time for most of our patients depends on their illness of injury but an average stay can range from one to three months before they're ready to be released in the wild."

The animals are stranded because they were injured by boats, fishing equipment, parasites, viral infections, malnutrition, or they could be orphaned. "If you see a beached mammal, please stay at least 50 feet away from it because they can bite and it's a federal offense to disturb one," Bard said. "Sometimes they come out on the beach just to rest and get sun."

"If you do encounter a beached animal in LA County, you can contact our center at 310-548-5677, tell us your location and we'll direct you to the proper rescue agency."

You can come and see the mammals at the center, from 10am to 4pm, daily (including holidays). Admission is free but donations are greatly appreciated. You can look through fences and see the wonderful loving care being given these warm-blooded mammals, who breathe air, give live birth, nurse their young and have fur and hair. You sometimes can tell from their grateful faces, how they appreciate the care they are receiving. Onlookers also sense the mutual love on the faces and actions of the animal caregivers. Definitely plan a visit to this very special center. You will be glad you did!

The Marine Mammal Care Center at Fort MacArthur primarily treats California sea lions, northern elephant seals, harbor seals and northern fur seals.