Seal pup brings hope as Natureland re-opens

A new arrival has become the star attraction at Skegness Natureland seal sanctuary - and you can help name him.
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Pixie the seal delivered her third pup overnight on Saturday and both mum and baby have been enjoyed the sun and the attention over the weekend.

Matt Yeadon, a director at Natureland, which has re-opened after lockdown, said: "It's a big relief to be back open. We've been limping along during lockdown - it's cost us a vast amount of money and has been very stressful for us.

"So to be open and generating some income while still being safe is amazing for us. It means we can continue our rescue work and still be here.

Pixie and her new seal pup enjoying the sun.Pixie and her new seal pup enjoying the sun.
Pixie and her new seal pup enjoying the sun.

"To celebrate the arrival of the new pup we are launching a poll to name him - using 'drinks' as the theme. People can vote on our Facebook page."

Lockdown has also meant a busy time in the seal hospital - which is potentially about to make history by currently caring for four sets of twins.

"It's incredibly rare to have twins and we are getting some DNA tests done first, but if they are, that is very exciting news," said Matt.

"The number of Harbour Seals that are born in the Wash goes up every year and, maybe, with the beaches being quieter during lockdown, they are being spread out more. We are expecting to be busy."

Gemma and Barry Flavell of Rutland with their son  Liam Flavell, 7, at the seal pool.Gemma and Barry Flavell of Rutland with their son  Liam Flavell, 7, at the seal pool.
Gemma and Barry Flavell of Rutland with their son Liam Flavell, 7, at the seal pool.

Among the visitors at Natureland on Sunday were Gemma and Barry Flavell, of Rutland, with their son Liam Flavell, aged 7. Gemma said: "We've just come to Skegness staying at a guest house for a few days - a staycation if you like, as we wouldn't normally come here.

"But we are enjoying our visit to Natureland - it's nice to get out again."

Visitors can meet the seals and explore inside areas such as the Reptile House, Aquarium and Floral Palace.

Directors say everything possible has been done to ensure guests have an enjoyable and safe visit, including a new one-way system, social distancing markers, and hand sanitisers placed around the park.

Maytor of Skegness Coun Mark Dannatt popped along to see the new seal pup at Natureland and chat to director Matt Yeadon about the sanctuary's future after lockdown.Maytor of Skegness Coun Mark Dannatt popped along to see the new seal pup at Natureland and chat to director Matt Yeadon about the sanctuary's future after lockdown.
Maytor of Skegness Coun Mark Dannatt popped along to see the new seal pup at Natureland and chat to director Matt Yeadon about the sanctuary's future after lockdown.

While guidelines from the government are in place, Natureland has a maximum on-site capacity throughout the day, which will allow social distancing to be maintained, in order to keep guests and staff safe.

For the time being, Natureland cannot host the seal and penguin feeding times, nor can guests feed the animals in Pets Corner.

However, there is still plenty to see.

The meerkats have been enjoying the sunny summer weather, butterflies are beginning to hatch in the Floral Palace, and the Seal Hospital has been busy rescuing baby Harbour seals, which are unbelievably cute.

Andrew Siddons with Jack Siddons, 5,  of Ashby de la Zouch. meeting the penguins.Andrew Siddons with Jack Siddons, 5,  of Ashby de la Zouch. meeting the penguins.
Andrew Siddons with Jack Siddons, 5, of Ashby de la Zouch. meeting the penguins.

The Gift Shop is also open and stocked with a great range of wonderful toys to buy, and the Blue Lagoon Restaurant’s kiosk will be serving snacks and drinks. The Blue Lagoon itself is not currently open or serving hot food, however this may change as time goes on.

In spite of being open to the public again, this does not mean that financial challenges no longer exist.

"The loss of income over the last three months has been devastating, and a real push is now needed to preserve what funds are left, and make back some of the losses to ensure that Natureland remains in Skegness for years to come, and can continue rescuing orphaned and injured seal pups," said Matt.

"The team at Natureland are incredibly excited to welcome visitors back, and hope to provide a safe and enjoyable day out for everyone!"