Bay Areas Marine Mammal Center expands tours for summer

Bay Areas Marine Mammal Center expands tours for summer

If you go to the website for the Bay Area’s Marine Mammal Center, you’ll find an up-to-date list of patients – including Squeezel the California sea lion or a Northern elephant seal named Lima Bean – being cared for at the working wildlife hospital, education and research center.

Those who want to visit the animals and learn more about the rescue operation can explore the $32-million center outfitted with glass walls and viewing platforms that reopened last June. It offers wide coastal views and access to nearby beaches from its location at the Marin Headlands within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, just on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Bay Areas Marine Mammal Center expands tours for summer

Visitors may take a self-guided tour of the facility from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. daily. This summer the center expands the number of docent-led tours (with admission charge) to 1 and 3 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays starting Tuesday, June 8, and continuing through Saturday, Sept. 11, except major holidays. Tickets cost $7 for adults, $5 for seniors and students (ages 5 to 17), free for younger than 5. (Click here to make a reservation.)

Bay Areas Marine Mammal Center expands tours for summer

On the tour, visitors will see animals and might catch volunteers preparing things like herring milkshakes for seal pups (feeding time is 12:30 to 1:30 p.m) or view a veterinarian taking tissue samples during a necropsy.

“This is not a zoo setting,” says Barbara Gibson, a spokeswoman for the center. “This is a working marine mammal hospital where visitors get a behind-the-scenes look.” For families interested in visiting, Gibson recommends that children be at least 8 years old.

For those wanting to make a day of it, plan a picnic lunch and a hike at Rodeo Beach or tour the nearby Point Bonita Lighthouse, Fort Cronkhite and Headlands Center for the Arts. The center also operates tours at the  Marine Mammal Center, Marin Headlands, 2000 Bunker Road, Fort Cronkhite, Sausalito; (415) 289-7325.

– Mary Forgione, Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger

Photos: (Top) The Marine Mammal Center reopened in June 2009. (Middle) A docent with an elephant seal gives a tour to children. (Bottom) One of the patients at the mammal hospital and research center gets fed. Credit for all photos: Marine Mammal Center

By LA Times

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