An orphaned seal pup has arrived at RSPCA Stapeley Grange, marking the start of the ‘seal season’ for the centre.
The common seal pup, who has been nicknamed Godfrey, arrived at the animal charity’s Stapeley Grange wildlife centre in Nantwich, Cheshire, on Friday (17 August), after being rescued from a beach in Cumbria.
He is the first seal to be admitted to the centre this season, and an increase in seal patients are expected at the end of August as a result of the start of the grey seal breeding season.
He is currently being fed fish “soup” five times a day with the hope that he will quickly gain weight.
Lee Stewart, manager at Stapeley Grange, said: “This poor seal pup was found separated from his mum and he was in a vulnerable situation. He was rescued by the British Divers Marine Life Rescue after being seen without his mum for we think at least two days.
“After a week or so and pending weight and his interest we will try feeding him on whole fish, which can be quite a time-consuming process. Seal pups are initially tube-fed until they work out what they need to do. Once they are taking fish it’s then plain sailing with regards their care, as soon after they will be taking fish by themselves.”
Once Godfrey is big enough, he will be transferred to the RSPCA’s East Winch wildlife centre in Norfolk so he can be socialised with other seals, before coming back to Stapeley Grange to be released back into the wild.
“It can take up to five months to rehabilitate a seal pup; to get them over the 40kg mark which is our benchmark weight to returning them to the wild,” added Lee. “It is a long process but it is very rewarding when they are finally released back into the wild – it makes it all worth it.”
The RSPCA advises that if members of the public spot a seal on a beach that they think might need help, the best thing is to observe them from a distance and do not approach them. Seals are wild animals and have a nasty bite. It is also advised they keep dogs away from any seal and keep them on leads on beaches that have seal colonies too.
If you see a pup whose mother hasn’t returned within 24 hours, is on a busy public beach, or if you think the seal may be sick or injured, please call the RSPCA’s 24-hour advice and cruelty line on 0300 1234 999. An unhealthy seal pup looks thin (but not bony) with a visible neck, like a dog.
There is more information on the RSPCA website about what to do if you see a seal or pup on the beach alone.
The RSPCA is a charity and relies on public donations to exist. It costs the centre £50,000 to feed the 6,500 animals which are admitted every year. The food bill for seals during the winter months at Stapeley can be as high £500 a week. Anyone who would like to support the vital work of Stapeley Grange can now donate online at www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/rspcahq/stapeleygrange.