POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Dec 16, 2011
A nearly blind Hawaiian monk seal found years ago trying to suckle a rock at a Kauai beach after his mother abandoned him is settling into his new home at the Waikiki Aquarium.
Hoailona, also known as KP2, has been poking his snout into the corners and edges of the outdoor pool as he explores the new environment he moved into this week.
"He's curious about everything that's around him," aquarium director Andy Rossiter said Thursday.
Hoailona is about 12 in human years. National Marine Fisheries Service officials first found him trying to suckle on a rock when he was just 3 days old. Humans raised Hoailona until he was old enough to be released into the wild and then set him free on Molokai.
There, the seal gravitated to people and soon became famous for charming and playing with swimmers. But authorities had to take him away when he started holding people underwater. It was then that his eyesight was also found to be poor.
Hoailona has spent the past two years at a California research laboratory.
At the aquarium, Hoailona is joining Maka, a seal who has been at the aquarium for more than 25 years and who would be in his late 80s or 90s if he were human.