Hawaiian monk seals to reside in old dolphin tank at Minnesota Zoo

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Members of an endangered species found in warm water and sandy beaches along the outer Hawaiian Islands are coming to the Minnesota Zoo, the Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal reports.

An announcement in a monthly email to zoo members confirmed that Hawaiian monk seals would be occupying the tanks in Discovery Bay, which housed the zoo's dolphin exhibit that shut down last year.

Zoo director Lee Ehmke said last month that the seal exhibit was a possibility.

The seals can reportedly grow up to 8.5 feet long and weigh 500 pounds.

Work is under way to repair the former dolphin tanks, and construction is expected to go on for much of 2013.

In the meantime, the zoo has installed its "Wall of History" in front of the old exhibit, where patrons can learn about the facility's 35-year history.

The zoo's dolphin exhibit held it last dolphin performances in late August, which was followed by a "Farewell Week" in early September.

Zoo officials said last May that the exhibit was ending "due to the low availability of dolphins and the urgency of other zoo development priorities."

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