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KP2 to Stay in Captivity

Molokai’s young Hawaiian monk seal, affectionately called KP2, has been diagnosed with cataracts and will not be released into the wild, following medical testing at the Waikiki Aquarium.

The development was announced yesterday by the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration. They said he will spend the rest of his life in captivity. KP2 is two years old, and monk seals can live up to 30 years old. He is the first Hawaiian monk seal to be raised entirely by humans.

As of Friday, when he was taken from Kaunakakai Wharf, plans for KP2 were to release him in the wild after a medical checkup. After finding his sight problems, the aquarium’s veterinarian Dr. Carmen Colitz said he was unreleasable.

David Schofield, NOAA marine mammal response coordinator, said he believes KP2 developed cataracts so young because he missed out on his mother’s milk. The seal was found abandoned on Kauai less than 24 hours old.

He will undergo surgery for the cataracts, which have left KP2 80 percent blind. Schofield said he would have been easy prey for sharks if released. KP2 will remain at the Waikiki Aquarium until a permanent place can be found. Officials are considering Sea Life Park or somewhere on the mainland.

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