In position with your birdwatching gear, you are ready to spot some interesting species. That’s when movement in the middle of the field catches your attention. But you can’t believe your eyes when you see what’s actually causing the disturbance.
In July 2015 a tiny harbor seal had the adventure of a lifetime. Though just a few days old, the little pup, later named Celebration, sadly found herself separated from her mother.
It would seem that Celebration had been enjoying a family outing but lost track of the tide. So when it went out, the little seal was left stuck in a muddy puddle all alone. The pup must have been terrified.
But Celebration was lucky. Getting stranded in Frampton, Lincolnshire, in the United Kingdom has some advantages. Indeed, she had come ashore in the Frampton Marsh nature reserve.
And she wasn’t alone for very long, either. Curiously, the little seal pup had managed to make friends with the local cattle. For some reason, the herd of cows just couldn’t resist wandering over to look at her.
Without even realizing it, the curious cows helped save Celebration’s life. Yes, the inquisitiveness of the herd had in turn drawn the attention of someone in the field. There, birdwatcher Ian Ellis also wanted to know what all the fuss was about.
Ellis is a member of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). As a birdwatcher, naturally he was carrying something to see over long distances – in his case, a telescope. And he couldn’t believe what he saw when he looked through it.
In the middle of the marshy field, a lone seal pup had drawn the attention of the herd of cows. With her mother nowhere in sight, Celebration certainly needed some help. Under such circumstances, she was lucky Ellis found her.
Immediately, Ellis contacted the nearby Natureland Seal Sanctuary (NSS) in Skegness – and rescuers soon arrived. Unfortunately, the poor pup had been away from both her mother and the sea for too long.
Not far from Frampton is the seaside town of Skegness. Naturally, therefore, lost sea life tend to end up on its beaches. In fact, the Natureland sanctuary is no stranger to taking in seals. However, it also takes care of other lost or injured marine visitors.
“Every year [during the breeding season], seal pups [get] washed up on the beaches around Skegness,” the NSS website explained. “[They get] abandoned or separated from their mothers by the treacherous tides. The lucky ones are brought to Natureland’s Seal Hospital.”
Thankfully, the rescuers reached Celebration just in time. “Her main problem [was] that at only five days old, she was orphaned,” Natureland’s Richard Yeadon explained to the Daily Mail. “Therefore, [she] had not fed for a while. She had lost quite a lot of weight and was dehydrated.”
Plus, the seal pup had contracted a lung infection. “Once we got the pup back to Natureland, she went straight into the Seal Hospital to begin treatment,” Yeadon said.
But feeding baby seals can be tricky. “The real problem is persuading the pup to eat. The pup suckles differently from other animals (such as cats and dogs). They cannot be taught to suck from a bottle,” read a post on Natureland’s website.
Nevertheless, Celebration was in good hands. Indeed, vets gave her medication for her lung infection and started her on a high-fat diet. To treat sick pups, the NSS staff typically sneak vitamins and other needed medicine inside fish.
The NSS staff always hope that they can release their rescues back into the wild. Of course, they wanted the same for Celebration. Until she was strong enough, though, she had a good home at Natureland. In fact, she even made a friend during her stay.
Celebration’s buddy, Charlie, arrived at the sanctuary around the same time as she did. The two spent their days filling up on as much fish as they could manage. Soon, the pair had grown strong enough for their release.
So, three months after their arrival at Natureland, Celebration and Charlie could finally go back to the wild. Their release in October 2015 made for a fond farewell to NSS. And to mark the occasion, a special guest came along.
Of course, Ellis didn’t want to miss the opportunity to see Celebration off. Not surprisingly, though, neither seal showed any hesitation getting out of their cages. Indeed, they both waddled confidently back into the sea.
So both pups had a happy ending! Wondering how Celebration got her name? Well, NSS was celebrating its 50th birthday at the time. And NSS staff save anywhere from 30 to 50 baby seals just like her per year. Such great work is definitely worth a seal of approval.