Kia Motors America donated one of its Soul models to the Pacific Marine Mammal Center to help center staff educate the public about its organization, which rescues and heals injured marine mammals, including sea lions, stranded along the Orange County coastline. (Pacific Marine Mammal Center / January 9, 2014)

  • Related
  • Bryce Alderton Signature

  • Topics
  • Conservation
  • Zoology
  • Aquaculture

The Pacific Marine Mammal Center has a new set of wheels to help spread the word of its mission to nurse marine animals back to health.

Kia Motors America donated one of its Soul models to the Laguna Beach center, a nonprofit organization that rescues, medically treats and rehabilitates pinnipeds and cetaceans, including sea lions, that become stranded along the Orange County coastline because of injury or illness.

The car will be primarily used for community outreach and education, bringing more awareness about the center's mission and problems facing the ocean, the center's director of development, Melissa Sciacca, wrote in an email.

"We are pleased that Kia has taken an interest in our cause, and sets a great example to other corporations about community philanthropy," center Executive Director Keith Matassa said in a news release. "We look forward to working together to bring awareness to the public about environmental conservation and consideration to benefit our planet."

In 2013, the center was hit with the biggest sea lion pup strandings in its 43-year history, the news release said.

More than 375 marine mammals came ashore in need of medical attention in Orange County, causing a resource shortage for the rescue group.

Reasons behind the mass stranding point to a shortage of fish stock, primarily sardines, according to the release.

The center, at 20612 Laguna Canyon Road, is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.