The first batch of the tidal orphan seal pups were yesterday (26 February) released back into the wild following weeks of rehabilitation.
A total of eight pups were released back to the sea at Winterton on Sea, Norfolk – to the delight of staff and volunteers at our East Winch Wildlife Centre.
The centre has been caring for a staggering 101 pups since December following one of the biggest rescue projects we have ever seen.
The seal pups, some just a few weeks old, had washed up along the shore following violent storms and they were too young to survive without their mothers.
Scores of seals were rescued by our officers and taken to our specialist hospital in Norfolk.
This was just the start of an epic rehabilitation program which involved hand feeding the pups at regular intervals and round the clock supervision for the youngsters.
Many of the pups were in need of intensive care and hand feeding which was as frequent as every four hours during the first few weeks.
Biggest rescue program in centre’s history
RSPCA centre manager Alison Charles said:
“This has been an extremely hard time for all the staff and volunteers – just coping with the sheer number of seals. This is the biggest rescue program we have ever had to deal with in the 25 year history of the centre.
“Getting so many pups fed every four hours was exhausting – but we had to do it in order to give them a chance of making it. Staff were working a morning shift, then coming back to do the evening shift – seal pups are also strong so at times it was mentally and physically exhausting.
“But when you watch them go back to the wild where they belong – you know it is worth the effort.
“We had to completely juggle the whole centre to make room for so many extra seals. Straight after the surge we had a staggering 58 pups come in and we were already caring for 50 others. And after that they still continued to come in.
“We had seals in every suitable room, in all the 17 cubicles in isolation, the box room, the orphan bird room and the hedgehog room.”
There are still scores of seals to be released
We launched a seal crisis appeal which received a fantastic response by the public – as it costs an estimated £22 per week to feed each seal. And each animal was expected to need up to five months of rehabilitation.
“We have been truly overwhelmed by the public’s response and generosity. We have spent the money on fish, medication, stomach tubing and a new industrial liquidiser.
“The money still continues to help those seals in our care.
“Our staff have done a fantastic and professional job. I really appreciate how they went way beyond their day job to care for the seals and they all kept each other going through the tough times.
“Our volunteers were great too and we just wouldn’t have managed without them
“Thank you also to the public for their support financially and with their kind messages that kept us going. There are so many tales of how people came forward to help us – we are so proud.”
Although this is the first batch of seals to be released there are still scores at the centre – there are 30 seals still in the isolation units, 16 in the intermediate pools, 17 in the swan pools and 15 in the courtyard pools.
There are also six pups at the RSPCA Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre and Welsh Mountain Zoo.
We can’t do it without you
The RSPCA can only care for animals like this thanks to the public’s help. If you want to help the seals that are still being rehabilitated please donate to our seal appeal.