You can teach an old Seal new "tricks"!

Animal care team at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary make a break through with Europe´s oldest Common Seal, Babyface.

Training is a really important part of the day to day care of the residents at the Sanctuary. It allows the animal care team to ask the residents to present body parts for inspection, weigh them, trim their claws, administer medicine and so much more.
Babyface - 2nd August 2016
Babyface - 2nd August 2016 Not only is training important for their care, it is also good fun for the seals and can give them a lot of mental and physical stimulation.

The team´s recent focus has been on resident Common Seal Babyface, who at 37 years old is thought to be Europe´s Oldest Common Seal in captivity.
Babyface joined the Cornish Seal Sanctuary on 17th September 2010, after spending 26 years at Colchester Zoo, he was originally rescued by the Mablethorpe Seal Sanctuary.

Over the years the team have done a lot of training with Babyface, but have failed to manage to get Babyface to enter and sit in a cage. Being able to enter the cage is useful behaviour for Babyface to learn, so that if the team ever need him in a cage to be moved or for an operation, they would be able to do this with ease.
Babyface - 2nd August 2016
The team started the cage training at the beginning of the year, and initially Babyface would only stick his nose in the cage before fleeing to the water! Eventually this built up to half way in the cage, but he would stick at the half-way mark before going back into the pool.

Babyface had a big breakthrough a few weeks ago, when member of the animal care team, Natalie Dyer, decided to get in the cage with him.

Natalie said "It´s easy to understand, for any animal, entering a strange enclosed space is a little daunting at first. Babyface has the additional challenge as he only has one eye, and is pretty much blind."

"This means that he can be easily spooked by noises and sudden movements. It also meant due to his poor sight that he has to be guided by the tap of a target stick on the ground, rather than following a member of the team."

"We had a breakthrough with Babyface when I decided to guide him into the cage, rather than the tap of a target stick. This seemed to comfort him and a fortnight ago he managed to get the whole way through the cage!"

This training has not only benefitted him for his future care, it has built up an even stronger bond and level of trust with the animal care team, who are all so proud of him!

Press Release issued by the Cornish Seal Sanctuary
For more details, please contact Georgina Shannon on 01326 221361
Issue Date: 2nd August 2016

Click here to watch a short video of Babyface doing his training.