East Winch RSPCA caring for 107 hurt and hungry seals

Grey seal pups being fed at the RSPCA Wildlife Hospital - wildlife assistants Jo Brooks (holding seal) and Alaina Hardy feeding some of the 107 pups.

Grey seal pups being fed at the RSPCA Wildlife Hospital - wildlife assistants Jo Brooks (holding seal) and Alaina Hardy feeding some of the 107 pups.

A wildlife hospital is crammed with injured and hungry seal pups after last week’s tidal surge crashed onto Norfolk beaches.

Staff at the RSPCA Wildlife Hospital in East Winch have been working almost non-stop caring for 107 grey seals which have been pouring into the centre since Friday last week.

Many of the pups were found starving and dehydrated on beaches in Blakeney and Winterton but some have been brought in with wounds inflicted by adult seals and dogs.

Staff at the hospital have had to move some of the other patients to make room for the pups, who will remain with the RSPCA for up to five months.

Centre manager Alison Charles is also appealing for donations to meet the costs of caring for the pups, which will each eat £22 of herring a week as they get older.

Mrs Charles said: “I have been here since 1989 and I have never seen anything like this before. The numbers are incredible. It is really sad when you hear them crying – it is horrible.

“They were in such a vulnerable position as they were on the beaches and it just swept them off. It couldn’t have happened at a worse time.”

RSPCA inspectors began to bring in the pups on Friday morning and the numbers have been swelling since then.

As most of the pups are around three weeks-old, they need to be fed four times a day.

The 21-strong team of staff, helped by a similar number of dedicated volunteers, feed the pups “fish soup”, a mix of liquidised herring and rehydration solution, at 8am, noon, 4pm and 8pm.

Each round of feeding takes approximately two-and-a-half hours and can be exhausting physical work for the staff, who have been left with bruised knees and would appreciate some pads.

Mrs Charles said: “It is like having an intensive baby ward.

“We are here for the long haul and it is not going to be a quick fix. Staff have been working really hard with many coming back to do extra shifts.

“The pups have a good chance of getting back out there. The lucky ones are here.”

The team, which is also caring for 140 hedgehogs and some injured swans, will progress to hand feeding fish to the seals as they get older.

Some of the seals are being transferred to a centre in Cheshire to make room for more pups, which are still on the beaches. The pups will be released in Norfolk beaches.

Mrs Charles is asking people not to approach pups on the beach and to keep their dogs away.

She said: “Inspectors have seen dogs mauling the seals. Please give these animals a sporting chance.”

If you would like to help the team send donations by texting 70070 followed by Seal 01 and the amount you wish to give. Or send cheques or postal orders to the hospital at Station Road, East Winch, King’s Lynn, PE32 1NR




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