Politics

Starving Scottish seal pup turns up at door of Bristol pub

A starving seal pup has travelled all the way from Scotland to a pub in Bristol.

Astonished staff and punters saw him shuffling along the ground and waddling up to the front door of the establishment.

According to its tag, the sea creature had travelled from Scotland and ended up at the Old Lock & Weir on Sunday, January 2.

The pub is some 300 miles away by road from the Scottish border where he was tagged and the route taken could also add to that.

Winding watercourses could make the journey even longer – to cycle the length of the country from John O’Groats to Land’s End is about 900km, for example, while the route for kayaking takes 1,400km.

Landlord Daniel Rawlins told Bristol Live : “He was wandering up outside on the road heading towards the pub.

“He got to the wall and was literally at the front door.

“He was a hit with the customers – he was a bit of a cutie to be honest.

“He’d come a long way for a pint!”

The seal had previously appeared on the slipway next to the pub at about 11.30am that morning, and staff managed to look after him while they waited for help until eventually letting him swim off.

Daniel said: “We didn’t really know what to do and thought we’d let nature take its course as he seemed like he wanted to get back in the water, and he swam off.”

It was about half an hour later that the seal reappeared, he said – this time fully getting out of the water and making a break for dry land.

Staff managed to keep him in a safe place by placing empty bread crates around him, but Daniel said he was a “bit of an escape artist.”

He added: “We were taking it in turns to take care of him [until the rescue team arrived] – even the customers, when it was busy and we [staff] were needed in the kitchen.

“I could sense he was good around humans, he wasn’t stressed or anything.”



The seal reappeared about half an hour after its initial visit
The seal reappeared about half an hour after its initial visit

The pub overlooks the Avon and several customers said they had spotted the seal struggling further along the river in the Keynsham area that morning before he hauled himself on to dry land.

RSPCA officers and a team from the British Divers’ Marine Life Rescue Centre got him to safety after staff called for help, and he is now being cared for at RSPCA West Hatch in Somerset.

Daniel said that once rescued, he was identified as a pup known to the RSPCA as Neoprene, who was tagged in Scotland in June 21.

The pub, just across the Bristol border in South Gloucestershire, is in a prime spot at the river’s edge.

However, Daniel said the only other time he has seen a seal there was in summer last year, but that one seemed to be “thriving” and eating lots of fish.

In comparison, he said Neoprene was found to be severely underweight, so will be nursed back to health before being released back into the wild.

The pub shared photos of the pup on its Facebook page late yesterday, describing the seal as an “unusual yet very special visitor.”

It quickly amassed 1,000 likes and hundreds more shares and comments overnight.

One woman commented: “Well done for catching him…he was filmed up in Keynsham Park and was struggling in the current so really glad he is now safe.”

Another echoed: “I’m so happy to hear this, I’ve been worried about him after seeing him struggling in the river in Keynsham.”

Daniel said he was “gobsmacked” to wake up to the response on social media this morning.



The pub shared photos of the pup on its Facebook page
The pub shared photos of the pup on its Facebook page

The RSPCA confirmed it is now caring for the seal, since nicknamed ‘Nacho,’ in its intensive care unit at West Hatch wildlife hospital.

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