ZP Week Fourteen: Goodbye, and thanks for all the fish!

My fourteenth and final week is now over, and I write this on the train to the airport. I’ll try to save my overall thoughts for a later review post and focus on what’s happened over the past seven days, because it’s never too late to have new experiences.

This was proven on my first working day (Saturday) when I ended up helping to pick up a seal. EHBZ volunteers up and down the Dutch coast respond to reports of seals in distress, but can’t always be expected to drive all the way to the centre. A common exchange location is a McDonald’s car park about two hours away. I tagged along to keep Enrique awake for the drive and we picked up a male grey seal in a bad way with lungworm. A random passer-by with a burger stopped to observe – all very bizarre.

It wasn’t looking good…

As he was very unwell we made some phone calls on the return journey so the vets could prepare for the possibility of having to euthanise. The decision has to be agreed by two of three vets, not including the interns who are usually left in charge on the weekends. Luckily for Aksel, he worked up a bit of energy in the car for the intake, so although he’s not out of the woods, he’s got a fighting chance.

…but two days later he’d perked up a lot!

I attended the necropsy of an adult common seal who was brought to us already dead. It was only my second necropsy in my whole say, and honestly I prefer my seals breathing. It was still interesting though. The stomach was completely full of worms so although I’m no vet I’m guessing that’s why he ended up with us. Later in the week a massive adult grey seal was also found dead. I helped carry the body to the necropsy room but that was the end of my involvement!

I got to do a little more feeding, most notably La Spezia, a very tiny cute common seal who was ridiculously compliant and melted my heart. A self-eater soon I’m sure!

Unfortunately little Lapsus suffered a relapse of her prolapse and had to be put down. There’s not much to say – everyone’s a bit cut up about it.

Rest in peace little one

New intakes have been named in recognition of International Women’s Day, and the centre is currently home to Ellen DeGeneres, Oprah Winfrey, JK Rowling, Marie Curie, and Rosa Parks. Quite the roll call.

Never thought I’d meet Oprah.

I was a victim to the last day tradition and was showered 3 times in my last shift by Bene, Luke, and Lisa-Maria. I’m choosing to be flattered and take that as their emotionally illiterate way of saying they’ll miss me…

Love you guys too

I had one more day in Pieterburen before my departure, which nicely coincided with the release of nine seals. A big group of us went to Lauwersoog to give them (and me!) a good send off.

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