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The wallpaper stripper bringing relief to poorly seal pups in West Norfolk

Sight of a wallpaper stripper might fill many people with dread - but poorly seals at RSPCA East Winch Wildlife Centre love it.

Staff are using a modified machine to provide a makeshift sauna to pups with breathing problems, helping to ease their issues.

The centre is currently caring for as many as 49 common seal pups, who will need much specialist care to help them get strong enough to return to the wild.

Just a couple of the 49 poorly common seal pups currently at the centre (42698852)
Just a couple of the 49 poorly common seal pups currently at the centre (42698852)

The seals with respiratory problems get their cubicles steamed twice a day.

Centre manager Alison Charles said staff had to get creative to come up with something strong enough to steam the whole room - and the mobile sauna unit was fashioned from a wallpaper steamer.

"It’s been modified a bit by us - we place a hose through a hole in the wall into their isolation cubicle, switch it on and the steam fills their room," she explained.

“We have found it makes a real difference to the seals breathing - just like a sauna can help us - after they have had a few sessions with the steamer!”

As well as the sauna respite, the pups who have been admitted to the centre since the start of June are all receiving a range of specialist intensive care.

Alison added: “The steaming is actually just a tiny part of the care we provide to help these poor seals.

"We are caring for some really sick seal pups at the moment and most will require weeks, if not months, of specialist care.

“It’s heartbreaking to see how poorly they are and their illness has been from a whole range of things including dehydration, emaciation, peritonitis, septicaemia, wounds, lungworm and esophageal impaction, all which require very intense nursing including antibiotics, and medicines especially for those with respiratory problems.

“As well as this, the 16 seal pups in our isolation unit also require three-hourly feeds.They are just so weak and dejected and literally fighting each day to survive.

“It really is so upsetting to see these beautiful creatures all hunched up and their usually bright eyes are now just so dull.

“Our team works so hard to give these seals a chance, their care takes a long time and they require intensive and very careful nursing.”

The common seals which the centre is currently caring for include:

  • 16 in isolation on three hourly feeds
  • 16 in the intermediate pools which require herring feeds three times a day
  • 17 in the outside pools having three herring feeds a day preparing for release.

The RSPCA says an unhealthy seal pup looks thin, but not bony, and has a visible neck, like a dog.

It says: "If the mother doesn’t return within 24 hours or you think the pup is sick or injured, or the seal pup is on a busy public beach, please call the RSPCA’s emergency line on 0300 1234 999.

"Please never try and return the seal to the water yourself."

East Winch has an Amazon wish list of items that are most in need, which can be found here: www.amazon.co.uk/hz/wishlist/ls/2QW97YL6JNRPQ

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