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Was the Baby Seal Rescued or Kidnapped?

Was the Baby Seal Rescued or Kidnapped?

 

The eyes tell the story. The fur seal pup’s blue orbs look startled and confused. Copper fur covers the body surrounding a winsome face. His flippers are pink. Nothing but the shape of this pup resembles the chocolate brown of his relatives.

Photographer Anatoly Strakhov stumbled across the pup on Tyulenly Island in Russia. Though most reports say the pupís mother had rejected him, Dudley Wigdahl,†Curator at the Aquarium of the Pacific, estimates he is three or four months old. Whether he’s been feeding from his own mother or sneaking milk from others, he has suckled enough to survive and looks healthy in the photographs.

With his albino-like characteristics, the pup faces some struggles in the wild. One of those is poor eyesight, which would hamper him from hunting or eluding predators. On the other hand, the little tyke made it this long, so it seems unlikely he was shunned by his colony as reports claim.

Strakhov was worried about the apparently abandoned pup. He does some work with a Russian dolphinarium, and that’s where the seal pup now has a new home. He will undoubtedly win the hearts of staff and visitors.

I am as taken as any animal lover by the story of this sweet seal pup. What troubles me is the assumption the pup was rejected by his mother and the colony. Young of any species who are truly rejected generally weaken and die well before the age of this one. Their mothers instinctively know when a newborn has life-threatening abnormalities. The mothers don’t waste energy on offspring unlikely to survive.

Furthermore, fur seals don’t automatically reject a pup of a different color. The photograph from Wikimedia Commons shows a similar pup snuggling with dark-brown colony mates.

So it’s possible this little guy was catching a peaceful nap when the photographer stumbled across him and that the presence of human onlookers kept him from rejoining the colony. The seal pup will likely thrive in the care of the dolphinarium, but he may not have needed rescuing. What do you think?

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Photo from Wikimedia Commons

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220 comments

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1:35PM PDT on Jun 19, 2012

nature often seems cruel to us, but this pup is part of the circle of nature be it a white adult or an easy meal for another animal.....

2:13PM PST on Feb 5, 2012

Poor baby! He should have been left to positively ascertain if his Mum was taking care of him!!!

10:07PM PDT on Oct 3, 2011

For all those saying that he'd have been lunch for a preditor, it dosen't change the fact that the preditor has to eat something. By removing what is effectivly a free meal, it means the death of another pup who might be better adapted to live in the wild.

All we've done is removed one pup's chances of survival who'd be better suited then this one is.

9:38AM PDT on Sep 26, 2011

I believe that he may have struggled when he started swimming as his colouring would have been more noticable to predators and his eyesight may have hampered his hunting efforts.Saying though I believe the humans involved should have observed first for a while before taking action.

6:33AM PDT on Sep 25, 2011

Thanks for sharing this article :)

11:16AM PDT on Sep 24, 2011

So he is in a dolphinarium now ? Hmmmmmmmmmm how to make more money ! PS I HATE dolphinariums A prison for our beloved ocean creatures more like it.

2:51PM PDT on Sep 23, 2011

I'm an avid animal lover but I do believe in the ways of mother Nature. Sure the baby survived this long and that's great but it's a wild animal. It's colouring, shape, senses, breeding habits and feeding habits are all taught and perfected through evolution. It's not a matter of cruelty, it's a matter of nature and the truth is, nature is cruel. Whatever struggles this little guy can look forward to facing, he should face out in the wild with those of his kind. Taking him away, sending him to a aquarium (or wherever) is cruel. Even though he may enjoy the company of other seals, I bet, with looks like that he will be a showpony. Sure, he gets food tossed at him, he gets medical treatment, he gets his little photo taken and he's admired and adored but it's cruel. You want to love/treat him like a pet but he's not. He's a wild animal. The rest of his normal coloured brothers don't get the special treatment. I believe in rescue and release, not rescue and retain. Wild animals should be out in the wild, not 'dancing for their dinner' in an aquarium. The only reason he would survive in captivity is because we don't have the guts to do what mother nature would do herself. We personalise and get emotional - it's survival of the fittest. That's just nature.

12:10PM PDT on Sep 23, 2011

Who's the moron? ryan .? We don't have the full story so it's difficult to vote. I voted No, because I feel that more time should have been spent to see if this seal actually were abandoned. Look. We can't go around saving every animal that we "feel" is abandoned!
See, what happened to "Happy Feet". He came all that way just to be sent back home to be eaten by a predator.
Good intentions aside. When I was a kid my dad told me to stay away from "abandoned" animals because most of the time the mom where near by. If I ever came across a nest that looked abandoned I did a 180 and went back the way I came just to not disturb wildlife and let the animals mother take care of her kids in peace.

6:13AM PDT on Sep 23, 2011

I am still learning about seals so I don't really have enough information to make a judgment here. the poll seems to be pretty evenly divided. Irealize there would be a big temptation to "rescue " this seal. I also understand an albino seal may have it harder in the wild..Situation is not clear cut

4:57PM PDT on Sep 22, 2011

Sometimes we should let nature go it.s course. Was he really threatened?

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