A seal pup rescued on the eve of the re-opening of the Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary has been released back into the wild.
Madelaine, the common seal pup, was rescued four months ago at Mundesley on the Norfolk coast after being reported by a member of the public.
Aged at around just five-months-old, she was suffering from pneumonia and had a number of small wounds on her rear flippers.
Staff took her back to the sanctuary, where she was placed in a special isolation cubicle in the centre’s all new seal hospital.
She was quickly christened Madeleine after the four-year-old granddaughter of veteran weatherman Michael Fish, who officially opened the sanctuary the day after the pup’s arrival in October.
It was re-opened following a £3 million clean-up and refurbishment operation after being severely damaged by the tidal floods in December 2013.
Mr Fish was the VIP guest of honour and was delighted the poorly pup was named after Madelaine, who loves seals.
Kirsty Sopp, one of the sanctuary’s animal care team members, said staff were delighted Madeleine had recovered well enough to be released back into the wild, but, as with all animals they release, they were sad to see her go.
She said: “Madelaine responded very well to her treatment and now four months later it is fantastic to be releasing her back to the sea.
“Now at around nine-months-old and weighing in at 37kg she has been given a clean bill of health and is all set to go.”
She added: “This is always one of the most emotional parts of our work here at the sanctuary.
“You work so closely with these gorgeous young creatures, nursing them back to health and no matter how often you see them go back to the wild, it still always brings a tear to my eye for each and every one of them.”