The Old Lock and Weir pub just outside of Bristol, England had a unique visitor stop by on Sunday, January 2 at about 11:30 in the morning, a seal pup somewhere between six and 12 months old. The seal swam up to the pub, which lies on the banks of the River Avon.
"It was amazing. Totally out of the blue," Dan Rawlins, the general manager of the pub, told the BBC. "It's not every day you expect to find a baby seal outside the pub," said bar and kitchen worker John Jefferies.
The seal, nicknamed Nacho by the pub staff, was a social little guy who seemed to be comfortable around humans. “He was moving around quite a lot and didn't seem too bothered about all the people around,” Rawlins told The Dodo.
Rawlins thinks that he probably walked up to the pub to get a bite to eat. Some fish and chips, maybe? Or possibly the pub’s signature prawn cocktail?
“As he was underweight, [he was] obviously attracted to the pub kitchen," Rawlins told The Dodo. "We're speculating that he was hungry."
The pub posted photos of the pup on its Facebook page and its regulars thought Nacho deserved a drink and some fish.
"Awww, bless wish I'd been there to see him, he's gorgeous, so glad he's safe now. Didn't he get a free pint and some fish after traveling l that way to visit you?" Marilyn Williams asked.
"Bless him! Amazing work all involved. He defo deserves a nice whiskey to warm the cockles and couple of fish before heading back to Scotland!" Christian Wiltshire wrote.
Rawlins called the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) for some advice about how to handle the pup and was told to let the animal return to the water.
The pub workers redirected Nacho to the water and it was high tide so he jumped in and swam away. However, about an hour later, he was back at the front door of the pub. “He'd come up the slipway, straight under the gate and then when we spotted him again, he was right outside the pub,” Rawlins said, according to The Scotsman.
The pub staff created a small pen using pallets to contain the seal and wrapped him in wet blankets to keep him comfortable. British Divers Marine Life Rescue safely retrieved Nacho and brought him to RSPCA West Hatch for treatment.
The rescuers scanned the seal’s tag and discovered he had made a 300-mile journey to Bristol from Scotland. They also learned he had lost a serious amount of weight. He had weighed 73 pounds when he was tagged but only 31 pounds after being rescued. It was also discovered Nacho had seal pox, which had caused some hair loss.
The seal is currently undergoing treatment and once the little guy puts on some extra blubber, the plan is to release him back to the sea. Sadly, he has yet to enjoy any of the fine food offerings at The Old Lock and Weir.
The RSPCA shared a photo of Nacho on Tuesday and he appears to be doing well.
“Nacho has come along really well since then and is enjoying a rest, after the journey to the pub,” the RSPCA wrote on Facebook. “He is eating well and is now 16.4 kg [36 pounds]. This means he will soon be moved into our larger pool, along with another one of our seals called Wool, so they can socialize with the other seals in there and get ready for release.”
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