APPLE VALLEY - Hawaiian monk seals are considered an endangered species and only live in a small part of the world around the Hawaiian Islands. Most of their habitat has been altered over the past few hundred years by us moving in. Research is underway at the Minnesota Zoo to understand how they eat so we can give the 1,400 left in the wild a better chance to survive.
"We needed to train each one of the monk seals to leave us and go and try and find that fish," said Latoshia Eshek, an Interpretive Naturalist at the Minnesota Zoo.
What the zookeepers are doing are monitoring on how they take the fish from the feeding station. This feeding station was designed by a Sarah Kienle, a PhD student from University of California.
"A biting mechanism or a biting method, or suction, where they suck the whole fish right down," said Latoshia.
You can see how this monk seal eats the fish and later on the ice by sucking it down and by knowing this is an important observation.
"Only one in five make it to adulthood because its really hard for them to find enough food. So being able to better understand the methods they use to capture food and prey when they are out in the wild is something that potentially used by research to help better areas for monk seals to live out in the wild," said Latoshia.
These five Hawaiian monk seals are the only ones under human care in the lower 48. You can learn more and see the monk seals everyday at the zoo. Shows go from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.