The National Seal Sanctuary this June will celebrate thirty years at Gweek.
The Seal Sanctuary moved to Gweek in October 1974, after the pools Ken Jones had built in his back garden at St Agnes became too small to accommodate all the grey seal pups that needed his help.
All set to open to the public in June the following year, Ken had seven months to build a hospital, nursery and rehabilitation pools for new pups and residents.
In the Whitsun of 1975, Ken opened to the public at a cost of £30,000, now thirty years on the Sanctuary has redeveloped most of the original pools, and built an up to date seal hospital.
The National Seal Sanctuary over the years has provided temporary and permanent homes for many other marine creatures. Temporary residents have included a hooded seal called Cleo, penguins and for a short time a Common dolphin by the name of Spirit, who was rescued by the team at the Sanctuary and spent two weeks recovering at Gweek before being successfully released back to the wild. A permanent home has been given to a pair of Common seals, Californian and Patagonian sea lions, Asian short clawed otters, ponies and goats.
Since 1975 the Sanctuary has been visited by over 4.5 million people, and has rescued, rehabilitated and released around 900 Grey seals back in to the wild. Many people who visited during the early years have returned over the last three decades to find new changes in both the rescue work and facilities on site.
To celebrate the opening thirty years ago, the Sanctuary is planning a week long event of games and prizes, the highlight of this week will be when the founder of the Sanctuary, Ken Jones, comes out of retirement for one day to help feed our resident seals.
“Anyone who visited when Ken worked here will remember that feed times where very wet and smelly for any visitor, with fish being thrown into the crowd.” said Manager Judy Williams.
Ken, now in his late seventies, is looking forward to working with the seals once again, and meeting some of the residents he rescued many years ago.