Hunstanton: Seal “rescued” from bathtub in family home

Seal rescuers from the Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary went to the most unusual of locations to pick up their latest casualty - a bathtub in a family home.

The SOS came from an anxious Mark Allsop, 40, who had just returned to his Lincolnshire home from walking his dog on the shoreline at Holbeach with an extra passenger in the car.

Mr Allsop had spotted the seal five days earlier in the same location, but the newborn pup was at that time healthy and lively.

When he came across her the second time, however, she seemed weak and listless and not knowing what else to do, Mr Allsop slung her across his shoulder and drove the 40-minutes back to his home with her on his passenger seat.

'My wife Ilze was understandably astonished,' said the 40-year-old. 'She was as concerned about the pup as I was though, but it took just a phone call to the Sea Life Sanctuary at Hunstanton and they were here within an-hour-and-a-half.

'In the meantime I'd offered it some tinned salmon, which it ignored, and put it in the bath and run some cold water for it, but it tried to crawl away from the water, so we just left it in the empty bath.'

All Hunstanton's rescued seals are named after Olympians this year, and the pup was christened Jessi-Jane, after swimmer Jessica Jane Applegate.

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'She was in a very sorry condition and it was touch and go whether she would survive,' said Hollie Stallworthy, one of the animal care team members who went to retrieve Jessi-Jane.

'Her trip to Spalding obviously hadn't helped matters, but Mark acted with the best of intentions and without doubt the pup would have died had he not found her.'

Jessi-Jane proved a fighter, and after a few days of intensive care and tube-feeding is now well on the road to recovery.

'What anyone who comes across a pup should do, however, is first of all watch from a discreet distance for at least an hour,' said Ms Stallworthy.

'In most cases the mother will be out at sea feeding and will eventually return.

'If after that length of time there is no sign of an adult, they should contact either the RSPCA or the sanctuary.'

She added that had Jessi-Jane not been so weak she could have given Mr Allsop a nasty bite.

'I realised as soon as I looked at the sanctuary's website that I shouldn't have taken the pup home, but I'm delighted she's recovering and will obviously know better next time,' Mr Allsop added.

Jessi-Jane should be fit enough to move from the seal hospital into the outdoor convalescence pool in around six weeks time, and if all goes well could be ready to return to the wild in about three months.

She is the ninth rescued pup in the sanctuary's care, who also have a one-year-old casualty Macey, who was originally rescued by another sanctuary last summer and got into difficulties again about a month ago.

It has been a surprisingly busy June for the seal rescue centre this year - with the common seal breeding season having seemingly started a few weeks earlier than normal.

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