Tragedy as Popular London Seal Pup is Euthanised Following Attack
Freddie the seal pup, who has become something of a London celebrity after taking up residence in the Hammersmith area of the River Thames, has died after being mauled by an out-of-control dog that had not been leashed by its owner.
The young common seal (Phoca vitulina) – named after the Queen singer Freddie Mercury, for his entertaining antics – was rescued by a team from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue service and taken to South Essex Wildlife Hospital with serious injuries to one of its flippers and an open wound from the attack. Despite attempts to treat the animal, X-rays showed that the seal had sustained a broken and dislocated bone, and damage to its joint, ligaments and nerves making treatment and a return to the wild impossible.
Freddie had previously been attended to by the BDMLR in Februrary, after being spotted struggling to eat further up-river at Teddington Lock in the west of London. The team from the BDMLR removed a fishing lure that had become stuck in Freddie's mouth and released him back into the sea at The Swale Estuary, a marine conservation zone on Englands's eastern coast and part of the River Thames' southern tidal waters. Freddie made his way back up the Thames two weeks later, where he took up residence at one of the slipways under Hammersmith Bridge.
In a post on the BDMLR's Facebook page, Alan Knight OBE, CEO of BDMLR said: ‘Freddie was a wild seal and after the ferocious attack on Sunday he suffered a serious broken and dislocated flipper. We contacted one of the UK’s leading orthopaedic surgeons, and he said that unfortunately, the only option was to euthanase the seal.’
'We are all absolutely gutted to hear about the extent of the injuries Freddie suffered,' said Knight, 'and highlights yet again the serious problems that can arise when humans and dogs encounter wild animals. We hope that his story will go a long way to helping educate people to look up and follow the appropriate guidelines for how to behave respectfully around wild animals and not cause disturbance or worse to them.'
A Justgiving Fundraiser aimed at raising £500 for the teams who aided Freddie has already received more than £7,000. Freddie's case is not an isolated example, and the BDMLR have received more than 125 seals pups for treatment at their Cornwall-based seal-pup hospital. A separate Crowdfunder initiative to build an expanded seal pup hospital can be found at: www.crowdfunder.co.uk/help-build-a-new-seal-pup-hospital