Veterinarian and seal expert Claire Simeone was just about to settle down and enjoy her lunch when her cellphone rang.
Work was calling, and as director of the Marine Mammal Center’s Ke Kai Ola Hawaiian Monk Seal Hospital in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, Simeone picked up immediately.
“As a veterinarian, I’m really on call for any type of questions or emergencies that come through,” said Simeone, noting that the hospital is caring for four endangered Hawaiian monk seals.
But when she answered her phone Wednesday, she was met with silence. In the span of 15 minutes, her phone rang nine times, each from the same number, and all eerily silent.
“The first thing I thought was that there was some kind of an emergency,” she said.
There was no seal emergency. Just a tiny emerald green gecko with dexterous feet and access to a landline phone with a touch screen.
In a now-viral Twitter thread, Simeone detailed her hunt for the source of the mysterious calls, delighting thousands. “You are not going to BELIEVE this story, Dr. Simeone tweeted on Oct. 5. “It’s one of the best things I’ve experienced this year.”
After receiving the calls, Simeone raced back to the hospital, where she found everyone outside on the patio eating their lunches. “I was like, ‘Guys, what’s up? What’s wrong?’ ” she said. “They said, ‘Well, nobody’s inside.’ ”
Then, Simeone said, her phone rang again. Soon, other people started calling the hospital wondering why they were being called “incessantly,” Simeone wrote on Twitter.
Simeone sought help from Hawaiian Telcom. A representative confirmed that “a bazillion calls” were coming from one line inside the hospital.
Was it the main office line? Nope. Nor was it the phone in her personal office or the hospital’s “fish kitchen.”
Finally, Simeone entered the hospital’s laboratory, and there it was — the phone responsible for all the calls — and the culprit: “THERE IS A GECKO SITTING ON THE TOUCHSCREEN OF THE PHONE, MAKING CALLS WITH HIS TINY GECKO FEET!!!” she tweeted. “This gecko has called me 15 times, and everyone in our recent call list.”
She posted a picture of the gecko on her phone, captioning it, “Actual photo of telemarketer.”