A marine mammal rescue group has announced that it is receiving a boost from some Hollywood star power for its effort to build a care facility in Los Angeles County to treat sick or injured sea animals.
Peter Wallerstein, director of Marine Animal Rescue (MAR), said the organization continues to work toward its goal of establishing a second marine mammal rescue and care center in the region at Dockweiler State Beach in Playa del Rey and some well known celebrities have expressed support.
Among those who have committed to helping Marine Animal Rescue in the design and construction of the care center are actor and Academy Award-winning director Clint Eastwood, along with his wife Dina Ruiz and actress-producer daughter Alison, Wallerstein said. Eastwood and his family have begun reaching out to the Hollywood film industry and hope to hold fundraisers, which Wallerstein believes will make a big difference in MAR fulfilling its vision.
“We are very excited and honored to have such dedicated support from Mr. Eastwood and his family. This is an important project for our community,” said Wallerstein, who has helped rescue thousands of seals, sea lions, sea birds and dolphins in Santa Monica Bay over the years.
“Clint Eastwood is someone who is so well respected in and out of the industry so just using his name is really going to help.”
Wallerstein said Alison Eastwood, an animal activist, became interested in the care center plans during a TV show project they were working on and she approached her father for support.
“My father and I are proud to be a part of this amazing, new marine mammal care center in Los Angeles,” said Alison Eastwood. “Being a native Californian, I find it crucial to reach out to the local community to help Marine Animal Rescue raise the funds to build this state-of-the-art facility. My family, friends and I have great hopes that the entertainment community and local businesses will rally to help make this much needed center a reality.”
Other celebrities who have also voiced a desire to assist include former “Seinfeld” star Julia Louis-Dreyfus and her husband Brad Hall, and actress Wendie Malick, formerly of “Just Shoot Me!” Wallerstein said. The MAR director knew funding for the estimated $5 million project would be a challenge and he is excited to have people with star power on board.
“This is such a great project but we knew we would have to have (funding) success from the entertainment community, and that’s who we’re reaching out to now,” he said.
The marine rescue group has been pursuing plans to open a county care center for more than a decade, as there have been instances in which sick or injured animals were unable to be rescued because the only facility available in San Pedro was overcrowded, Wallerstein explained.
The project began to take off last year when the National Marine Fisheries Service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration authorized MAR to design, construct and operate a second marine mammal care site at Dockweiler Beach. The marine rescue team will operate the planned facility for three years under the authority of the Pacific Marine Mammal Care Center in Laguna Beach, which will act as a mentor. Working with the mammal center will allow Wallerstein’s team to ensure that the animals receive the best medical attention before they are released back to their natural habitat, he said.
The MAR group is working with the county Department of Beaches and Harbors on identifying the planned location at Dockweiler and Wallerstein is hopeful that the project will be supported by the California Coastal Commission. The group is considering a site in the Los Angeles International Airport area as an alternate.
“We still have work to do but things are moving ahead. This center is so important and critical for the community and marine mammals,” he said.
The proposed project is being designed by award-winning green architect David Hertz and MAR is approaching some of the best marine mammal veterinarians in the country to work out of the facility, Wallerstein said.
“We are excited about our involvement with MAR in the design of the new and much needed marine mammal rescue and care center,” Hertz said. “We anticipate this building to employ state of the art sustainable and green building systems and practices that make it one of the leading global examples of architecture, moving beyond sustainability towards a truly restorative building.”
The finished building will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and will include heated floors, an indoor intensive care unit, as well as a veterinary teaching hospital for marine mammals.
“We’re going to have the best possible staff and the best possible facility for the staff to work in,” Wallerstein said. “We want to ensure that the animals get the best possible care and the only way to do that is to have a state-of-the-art facility and compassionate staff.”