Bequest of Late Co-Founder and Chairman Moves NMLC Closer to the Dream of a New Hospital to Rehabilitate Marine Animals on Cape Cod
BUZZARDS BAY - A sacred haven for the rehabilitation of threatened and injured marine animals on Cape Cod has received an uncommon gift in death â?? much as it did in life â?? from its co-founder and visionary, the late Townsend â??Townieâ? Hornor, of Osterville, Massachusetts.
The Estate of Townsend Hornor has announced a bequest of $2 million to the National Marine Life Center (NMLC), one of New Englandâ??s most promising centers for the rehabilitation of stranded marine animals, and an emerging nexus for scientific research and public education on marine wildlife health and conservation. Officials at the center have confirmed that the gift will be used to help fund an ambitious expansion project at the NMLCâ??s Buzzards Bay facility â?? including the construction of a new hospital offering special care and treatment for stranded sea turtles, seals, dolphins, porpoises, and small whales. A plan for a hospital, larger administrative spaces and a modern discovery center on the site bordering the Cape Cod Canal has been in the works for several years. This gift of $2 million from the Townsend Hornor Estate moves the Center closer to realizing this goal.
Announcing the bequest, Mr. Hornorâ??s widow, Catherine Hornor, stated to the Centerâ??s Board of Trustees that "Townie wanted to make a gift that would make a difference, one that would help others preserve and protect the marine environment of Cape Cod. He thought the best way to make that difference was through a significant gift to the National Marine Life Center, a place he loved very much. I am deeply touched by and proud of Townie's caring and generosity."
Townsend â??Townieâ? Hornor, who died in September of last year at the age of 78, was cofounder in 1995 of the National Marine Life Center and later Chairman of its Board of Trustees. A non-profit organization, the NMLC began as a project that Hornor spearheaded together with his late wife, Elizabeth Saunders Hornor. Their love of the sea and concern for the wildlife within it led them to establish the National Marine Life Center. In 2003 this fledgling organization opened a small clinic with two pools to treat cold-stunned turtles and stranded seals. Its first patient, a juvenile loggerhead sea turtle, was admitted in March 2004 and successfully released into Nantucket Sound in September of that year. Since that time, the Center has grown to achieve praise and recognition in its mission to rehabilitate marine animals, conduct research in marine wildlife health, and educate the public about marine animals and ocean conservation.
In August 2006, the Center completed a significant milestone in its work as it collaborated with several rehabilitation partners in the rescue, care and release of 14 critically endangered sea turtles â?? the largest sea turtle release ever in the Northeast. The National Marine Life Center provided eight months of rehabilitative care for six of the stranded turtles in its Buzzards Bay clinic.
According to Kathy Zagzebski, President & Executive Director of the Center, Cape Cod and southeastern Massachusetts is a stranding "hot spot." â??Hundreds of marine animals come ashore alive in this area every year,â? said Zagzebski. â??Further, evidence appears to show that the numbers of strandings are increasingâ? she added. The causes of strandings are many - and often the reason for any one stranding remains a mystery. With strandings on the rise, the need for hospital space also increases. While there are many dedicated individuals and organizations working in rehabilitation facilities throughout New England, the simple fact is there are not enough hospital â??bedsâ? to care for the animals in need of help. The NMLC intends to change that situation by having a staff and facilities â?? multiple pools of appropriate sizes â?? dedicated full-time, year-round to marine animal rehabilitation.
Zagzebski acknowledged the impact of Hornorâ??s gift stating â??Townieâ??s incredible generosity will allow us to develop our new facility for a closer study of the stranding phenomena as, at the same time, we significantly expand the treatment resources for marine animals along the east coast of the U.S. His gift puts us closer to realizing his dream.â?
The NMLC Trustees and staff have been raising money to convert a 17,000 sq. ft. former lumber warehouse, with 2,800 sq. ft. of new construction, into a stranded marine animal hospital and marine animal discovery center â?? offering animal care, educational programs and a Visitorâ??s Center in which residents and tourists alike will be able to learn about marine animals and how they serve as a window to the ocean and its conditions.
Richard P. Largay, Chairman of the Centerâ??s Board of Trustees and close friend of the late benefactor, said â??This unexpected dimension of generosity on Townieâ??s part confirms his deep passion for and dedication to this cause, and also is a critical financial impetus for the organization to accomplish its expansion goals. He was and continues to be a true gift to this institution.â?
â??With further help from both the public and private sectors,â? continued Largay, â??we will realize one of Townieâ??s personal dreams that so many of us share â?? the creation of a hospital to care for the hundreds of sea turtles, seals, dolphins, porpoises, and small whales that come ashore alive in need of care, together with a much needed science-education center. Our expansion and renovation plans include pools of different sizes to treat the full range of marine animals that strand, spaces for administrative and support services, and the marine animal discovery center.â?
A memorial fund has been established in the name of Townsend Hornor, so that others may contribute towards his dream. To donate to this fund, call 508-743-9888 or visit the National Marine Life Centerâ??s web site at www.nmlc.org.
The National Marine Life Center is a private, non-profit hospital for stranded marine animals. Its mission is to rehabilitate for release stranded sea turtles, seals, dolphins, porpoises, and small whales, and to advance scientific knowledge and education in marine wildlife health and ocean conservation. For more information, visit http://www.nmlc.org.