New Seal Patient Admitted: Major Margaret “Hotlips” Houlihan

Army Corp of Engineers

Our newest patient, a young female harbor seal pup, was admitted to the National Marine Life Center’s animal hospital on Monday, November 12th.  She was found by the Army Corps of Engineers along the Cape Cod Canal in serious condition, was picked up by the International Fund For Animal Welfare’s (IFAW) Marine Mammal Rescue Team with the assistance of our Animal Care Coordinator and is our first directly admit patient in the new hospital.

 This young seal is thin, lethargic, and had severe wounds on her face surrounding her mouth a nose. The infected sores are of unknown origin and have cause large portions of tissue to die and slough off. The infection is quite severe and the animal is in guarded condition. She received an admit exam on Monday and a veterinary exam on Tuesday including x-rays, blood work, and through cleaning of the wounds. Luckily all the bones in her face seem to be intact, but her injuries are very traumatic and she will be a very intense medical case. Our main concern is the damage to her nose, which may not allow her to seal off the opening, allowing her to dive.

 Having been admitted on Veteran’s Day, by the Army Corp of Engineers we wanted to give this little animal patriotic name. In researching famous military women we can across the perfect namesake for our newest seal patient. Although she is a fictional character Major Margaret “Hotlips” Houlihan from the popular television series M*A*S*H serves as an ironic quip to the seal’s unfortunate disfigured face and lips.

Hotlips has a guarded prognosis, mainly due to the infected state of her facial wounds. She is being kept in our dry holding room and receiving daily treatments including pain relievers, antibiotics, fluids, and wound care and debriding. If her condition improves we will move her into one of our seal tanks to test her ability to close off her nostrils and dive. She must be able to seal her nose to dive and catch prey, to survive in the wild. In the meantime, she is getting tube fed fluids and fish gruel and we will slowly start to incorporate more fish and less fluid, until she can eat on her own.

Watch the website for updates and check our Facebook page for photos and news on Major Margaret. If you’d like to contribute to her rehabilitation, please click here.