It is with great sadness that the National Seal Sanctuary announces the death of Twiggy, one of its oldest resident grey seals, who died on 25th of April 2003 after a serious illness.
Twiggy´s early life was a tragic tale of abuse. Originally taken as a pup into a traveling circus, Twiggy was retained by the owner of the circus after it disbanded. She soon found herself kept as a curiosity at the back of a pub, in a pathetic enclosure with a bath tub for a pool. These confined surroundings had serious impacts on Twiggy´s physical and mental health.
Eventually, at around the age of twenty, Twiggy was rescued by the RSPCA and she was first brought to the Sanctuary in 1994. Initially, her extreme fear of open spaces and deep pools, her inability to swim properly, and her anti-social nature, led to her segregation from the rest of the grey seal colony. Not wishing to mingle with the other seals in the Convalescent Pool, Twiggy chose the relative security of the Nursery Pools where she would often press her nose against a wall or ledge in an apparent effort to comfort herself.
As the years passed, however, Twiggy showed much improvement, becoming less frightened of leaving her Nursery Pool and venturing out along the haulout of the larger Convalescent Pool during feeding times, getting some much-needed exercise in the process. But Twiggy was never able to lose the profound mental and physical scars that she brought with her to the Sanctuary, and, unlike the many wild pups that returned to the wild in good health, Twiggy´s rehabilitation would never end. During her many years at the Sanctuary, Twiggy endeared herself to the Animal Care Team, and captured the hearts of countless people who came to the Sanctuary and consequently pledged their support as her sponsors.
In March of this year, Twiggy began to show signs of physical decline and illness. Her condition gradually worsened as she lost weight and struggled to complete her annual moult. Increased difficulty in breathing and a worsening cough signaled serious illness, which was confirmed in April when blood results and clinical symptoms combined to suggest cancer. Last week, it became clear that Twiggy was not responding to treatments and that her quality of life was rapidly deteriorating. As a result, the Sanctuary made the extremely difficult decision to relieve Twiggy´s suffering without delay. With the Animal Care Team by her side, she was put to sleep on April 25th.
Twiggy achieved much in her life; her story touched the hearts and minds of many people. Her life is a lesson to us all. May she now rest in peace.