From Hawai‘i With Love: Gecko Power Sends Message Across the World

A little Big Island lizard dialed up a lot of attention for this Marine Mammal Center.


Big Island veterinarian Claire Simeone says a tiny green gecko who toe-dialed a whole lot of people from the Marine Mammal Center where she works brought worldwide attention to the mission of wildlife conservation.


SEE ALSO: Video: Monk Seal Finds and Plays With a Discarded Knife


Simeone had stepped out for lunch when she started getting multiple calls with nobody speaking from the Ke Kai Ola hospital where she’s the director. She rushed back fearing a problem, and called the phone company after more people reported getting mystery calls from the center. Eventually, she located a tiny green gecko atop a touchscreen phone who apparently kept redialing recently called numbers with his little feet.


Gecko Phone Calls


Happily, Simeone snapped a photo before escorting him outdoors and tweeted the story. It got picked up by Associated Press writer Jennifer Sinco Kelleher and the wacky tale has since traveled across the country and the globe, from the Bay area to Boston, India to Japan.


“Since I’ve tweeted the story, I’ve been shocked at how much interest there’s been in our little gecko friend,” Simeone says. “I’m sure that people can identify with receiving lots of calls from a telemarketer, and it’s just incredible to think that a gecko could be behind it all.”


SEE ALSO: 911 for the Life Aquatic: Hawaii’s Marine Mammal Response Network


She says the story has given the center a chance to share their staff members’ work with the world and to highlight the importance of wildlife conservation. “Ke Kai Ola has rehabilitated 2 percent of the entire endangered Hawaiian monk seal population since we opened in 2014, and we couldn’t do it without support of individuals who care about the animals we share this planet with,” Simeone adds.



To learn even more about the work done by the Marine Mammel Center, visit their website.