SEA LIFE Sanctuary mourns death of
Gigha the seal (12/07/1983 - 11/09/2007)

Staff at a Scottish wildlife sanctuary are mourning the death of their oldest resident seal Gigha...just six weeks after she gave birth to a healthy pup, christened Lora.

Gigha, who arrived at the Scottish SEA LIFE Sanctuary in Oban when just a few days old in 1983, fell ill on Thursday 6th September 2007, when staff noticed she was listless. Her pup Lora was removed to the Sanctuary's seal hospital and closely monitored by staff for any signs of stress. A vet was immediately called and prescribed antibiotics and anti-inflammatories for a suspected infection...but Gigha's condition continued to deteriorate and on Monday the vet returned and changed her medication as there was no improvement.
On Tuesday afternoon it was noticed that Gigha's condition had deteriorated and was in need of urgent medical attention. She was removed from the seal pools and taken to the seal hospital to try and make her comfortable and await the vet's arrival. During this time her breathing became very laboured and she became even more listless. Shortly after the vet had arrived on site she passed away peacefully surrounded by people that loved her. "Everyone at the Centre is very upset," said Displays Supervisor, Tina Houchin. "Gigha has been here longer than any of us. She's been like a member of the family and her death is doubly upsetting so soon after the joyous event of Lora's birth."

Lora is weaned and staff are confident that her growth and development will not be significantly hindered. She will soon be moved back to main pools to be with her dad, Lorne

Gigha's body was being removed from the Sanctuary for autopsy early today, to discover the precise cause of her death.

"At 24-years she was a ripe old age for a common seal, though," said Tina, "and we're happy that we provided her with the best possible quality of life that we could during her time here. She was still playful with the team and Lorne even when she was heavily pregnant with Lora."

Gigha was brought to the Scottish SEA LIFE Sanctuary when she was just 5 days old, after the SSPCA were informed that she was being kept as a pet in a paddling pool being fed on a diet of tinned tuna and condensed milk. Due to her unconventional diet and amount of handling that she received the decision was made that she would remain at the Sanctuary.

Her life time companion Lorne, Lora's father, will be watched carefully over the coming days for signs of stress or anxiety at Gigha's sudden absence.

Lora was the tenth pup born to Gigha and will remain at the Sanctuary with her father Lorne.

"Gigha will be sadly missed by a great many visitors as well as the management and animal care team," said Tina. "A lot of them return year after year, and will doubtless be saddened to find that a familiar old favourite is no longer with us."

For more details, Please contact: Tina Houchin or Claire Rowlands on 01631 720386.

Press Release date: 12th September 2007

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