Seal pup breaks free from rescue vehicle

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AN ADVENTUROUS seal pup found in a lorry car park near Cairnryan may have been washed ashore in stormy weather.

Workers at Cairnryan ferry terminal spotted the six week old male seal pup on Thursday night.

Despite their best efforts to encourage him back into the water he refused to go and when he was still there on Friday morning staff grew concerned for his safety and contacted Scotland’s animal welfare charity for help.

One worker picked the seal pup up and put him in the boot of his car to keep him out of harm’s way but the seal managed to break out and was found lying on the dashboard of the car when Scottish SPCA Animal Rescue Officer Alistair Hill arrived.

Officer Hill said, “The weather in the area was particularly bad last week, with winds of 50-60mph and very stormy seas.

“The seal pup had made its way into the lorry park via a steep, man-made banking. It would have taken a lot of effort for him to get up there and he had no intention of returning to the choppy waters.

“Normally we’d ask people to leave seals alone until we arrive but there was a risk he could have been injured in the busy lorry park so a member of staff put him in their car until I got there.

“However, the seal managed to escape from the boot by pushing down one of the rear seats and wriggling up onto the dashboard.

“He is clearly a very smart seal as he ended up watching the storm out the windscreen of the car from his warm, dry spot on the dash.”

Now named Smartie, he is recovering from his adventure at the Scottish SPCA’s National Wildlife Rescue Centre near Alloa.

Centre Manager Colin Seddon said, “Smartie was weak and dehydrated when he first arrived but he’s now doing really well in our care and already feeding himself.

“He’s currently housed in an individual seal pen which has a wet and dry area for him. As he grows in strength and size we’ll move him to one of our outdoor pools where he’ll interact with other seals and get used to swimming and feeding in the deeper water.

“We hope to return Smartie to the wild in about a month’s time, but only when we’re sure he’s fully fit and able to fend for himself.”

Anyone who discovers an injured or distressed animal should call the Scottish SPCA Animal Helpline on 03000 999 999.