Arctic seal that doesn't like the cold

AN ARCTIC seal with an apparent dislike of the cold is gradually conquering his strange phobia with the aid of a giant ice machine loaned by a Suffolk firm.

David Green

AN ARCTIC seal with an apparent dislike of the cold is gradually conquering his strange phobia with the aid of a giant ice machine loaned by a Suffolk firm.

Sahara has already been rescued twice after spurning his native waters in favour of warmer seas of the Mediterranean.

He first washed up on a beach in the Canary Islands and was flown to the National Seal Sanctuary in Gweek , Cornwall, to recuperate before being released again near the Orkneys.


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Animal care supervisor Tamara Cooper said instead of then heading back towards Greenland, he turned south again and made his way to Spain to be rescued a second time.

Sahara - a hooded seal - is now a permanent resident at the sanctuary and his carers are using a giant ice machine to try and cure his fear of the cold.

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The £4,000 machine, loaned by Hubbard Ice Systems, of Otley, near Ipswich, can produce half a tonne of ice every day.

Staff said Sahara fled to the opposite end of his enclosure when they first started shovelling in the ice, but the cold treatment seems now to be working.

Ms Cooper said: “It took a little while, but some memory from his pup-hood eventually seemed to surface and he came for a closer inspection.

“Once he'd had a sniff and then slid over the top of it for the first time he found he actually likes it.

“We don't think it will be long now before Sahara is a proper ice-loving Alaskan seal again."

Sahara is currently the only Arctic hooded seal being cared for in the UK.

The two-year-old was originally rescued after being found on a beach in the Canary Islands in April last year.

He was released last October after being transported by road, sea and air back to his natural habitat near the Orkney Islands.

He swam more than 1,000 miles in the wrong direction and was rescued by a Spanish sanctuary before returning once again to Cornwall.

Chris Davis, commercial director of Hubbard Ice Systems, said the sanctuary had got in touch to ask for help.

“The guy there explained they needed a lot of ice to cool the seal down and we agreed to lend them a machine for the summer,” he said. “If Sahara becomes a permanent resident at the sanctuary we will look at the possibility of the machine becoming a permanent loan.”

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