Don't try to save lost-looking seal pups yourself, Vancouver Aquarium warns
CTVNews.ca staff, with a report from CTV News Vancouver Julie Nolin
Published Sunday, August 18, 2019 2:19PM EDT
People are being warned not to take seal pups home in B.C. after the Vancouver Aquarium rescue centre noted an increase in people taking animals that don’t need rescuing.
The aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre explains that other inappropriate behavior included people feeding pups inappropriate food such as smoked oysters and chicken drumsticks.
“People have observed these animals that they feel are in need of rescuing and gone about themselves to pick up the animals before actually calling into our centre,” the rescue’s manager Lindsay Akhurst told CTV News Vancouver.
She lamented that someone recently had seen a seal pup and “thought the animal needed to be rescued, brought it home to their bathtub and then called us."
Some would-be rescuers have been seen wrapping two newborn pups in cushion covers, while others have taken the animals from the coast all the way to their homes in central B.C.
Akhurst explained that people's well-meaning gestures don’t account for how dangerous it is for the pup to be removed from its habitat.
Akhurst stressed that if people see seal pups in need that they should stay back and immediately call the aquarium or the rescue centre directly.
"Give us a call -- we're able to assess that animal. Send us in some pictures and see what the body condition of that animal is,” she said.
She said leaving them alone is critical because pups should not be separated from their mothers.
In a statement, the centre’s assistant manager Emily Johnson said “once a pup has been removed from its natural environment it makes it difficult to be reunited with mom, and then we have no choice but to rehabilitate them.”
She said even if the pups look lost, “it’s not unusual to see a seal pup on its own at this time of year. Unlike some other marine mammals, harbour seal mothers can’t sustain lactation unless they go out and forage."