ZP Week Twelve: If At First You Don’t Succeed

This week I finally managed to successfully force feed a seal (or three) – but it wasn’t all smooth sailing to get there.

My first attempt at force feeding was several weeks ago. Luna and Robin were enthusiastic, but completely mashed up the fish before it could get any distance down their throats.

My second attempt was at the start of this week, with Cisca in Griend. She also got water, so it was my first tube feeding. The water went down okay, but I couldn’t manage the fish at all. I don’t know if it’s the position I was in or having run and done yoga the day before, or both, but my legs were also shaking the whole time which was very distracting. Vicky had to take over. I gave water to Rover as well, but he is a hand feeder so didn’t try again with fish then.

The next day I was sent with Marga to Kleine Badjes, a Fase 2 pool. This was clearly with the specific intention I should learn to force feed. These seals were a bit healthier and had been here longer so it was a lot easier. They were all slightly different – Floris and Henkie a little more reluctant to start with, while with Garlic the biggest worry was that he’d also take my fingers in his enthusiasm.

It’s definitely a weird feeling and something that takes getting used to, and I hope I’ll have more opportunities to work on it in my last couple of weeks.

Otherwise, this week I’ve been able to record a few more grey seal intakes and help out with a playback experiment (that isn’t really yielding any results so far).

The tiniest, sweetest, grey seal in the world arrived with (skip this bit if you’re squeamish) a prolapsed anus, complete with some necrotic tissue. In her intake they were already talking about euthanising, but once they put her under anaesthesia the next day that changed. Apparently it wasn’t as bad as they thought so they’ve sewn everything back up and are giving her a chance. She’s still on a liquid diet but getting better. You can blame Alfredo, the vet intern, for calling her Lapsus – unfortunately it seems to have stuck. She is sweet and curious, and she loves towels.

Other updates:

Juli, the seal with the big wound in her side, died. After necropsy the vets determined that the wound wasn’t actually too bad, but basically everything else about her was killing her.

Sonia, who had her eye removed, is now feeling well enough to eat again and loves swimming! She also looked less gross so I will show you a photo (from a distance).

One grey seal arrived, and on determination she was really perfectly fine, was released a few hours later. The same day, a common seal arrived and was euthanised immediately in intake because of emphysema. Karmic balance?

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