I’m sorry to tell you that Olaf, the seal pup who was rehabilitated and returned to the wild by staff at the RSPCA Mallydams Wood Wildlife Centre in East Sussex, has died.
Olaf was the youngest seal pup the centre had ever taken in so it was always going to be a challenge to rehabilitate him. His umbilical cord was still attached and his still had his downy coat, which is usually lost before birth.
Staff gave him round-the-clock care and Olaf gradually increased from 8.7kg to a healthy 34kg and was ready to be returned to the wild.
We don’t really know what happened to Olaf but it looks like he just couldn’t cope in the wild after he was released. Some young seals, whether they have been brought up in the wild or spent some time in captivity, just aren’t strong enough to survive. This could be down to food supply, disease or competition from other seals.
His body was discovered on a beach in France and he was identified by his tag. All rehabilitated seals are tagged, which means that the RSPCA can identify them if they’re spotted or sadly die. French scientists examined Olaf’s body and believe he died of pneumonia (a disease that affects the lungs).
Although this is very sad, the RSPCA continues to learn from rehabilitating wild animals.