Pups help seal Ed­ward’s re­lease

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - NEWS - WEEK­END AR­GUS RE­PORTER

SEAL pup Ed­ward Flip­per­hands, found washed up on Capricorn beach in June, is one step closer to be­ing freed back into the wild af­ter be­ing re­ha­bil­i­tated at the Cape of Good Hope SPCA’s Wildlife Unit.

“Our in­spec­tors iden­ti­fied the stranded seal as a sub­Antarc­tic fur seal, which is fairly un­com­mon along our shores. They be­lieve the an­i­mal had pos­si­bly be­come dis­ori­en­tated and, as a re­sult, washed up on shore de­hy­drated and mal­nour­ished.

“The storms off our coast dur­ing that time may have caused it to sep­a­rate from its mother or the mother may have died,” said SPCA spokesper­son Tara McGovern.

“Thanks to sup­port from peo­ple like you, our wildlife in­spec­tors have been able to prop­erly care for him.”

She said that dur­ing the first few weeks of his stay, he was mon­i­tored ev­ery few hours and fed a diet rich in sup­ple­ments to en­sure he would quickly gain be­tween 4kg and 6kg.

“On ar­rival, he was be­ing hand fed, which is quite a task with those sharp teeth, to bol­ster his re­cov­ery. Af­ter a few weeks, we were happy to find him eat­ing unas­sisted, which was a great sign.

“Nat­u­rally, this amount of hu­man in­ter­ac­tion, cou­pled with the fact that Ed­ward has never hunted for his own food, left us se­ri­ously con­cerned that he would be at sig­nif­i­cant risk if we were to re­lease him back to the ocean.”

There were also con­cerns Ed­ward wouldn’t be re­leased close enough to where he came from, which would make it un­likely he would meet oth­ers of his kind.

“This was when we called in the team from Bay­world, Port El­iz­a­beth, who hap­pened to have two sub-Antarc­tic seals in their care, which would be in­valu­able to Ed­ward’s re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­cess.

“Th­ese two seals are also be­ing re­ha­bil­i­tated and will be re­turned to their nat­u­ral habi­tat to­gether with Ed­ward when they are ready.

“This is so im­por­tant be­cause they will be able to teach Ed­ward to hunt, feed and be­have like a seal would in the wild. This is Ed­ward’s only chance at free­dom,” said McGovern.

Bid Air Cargo spon­sored Ed­ward’s trip to Bay­world in Port El­iz­a­beth.

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