‘Franklin’ the Sub-Antarctic Fur Seal washed ashore near Wollongong in a terrible state of health. His bones were sticking out; he was about 15 kilograms underweight and didn’t even have the energy to raise his head. He was also about 2000 kilometres away from the closest colony of these seals on Macquarie Island.
Taronga’s Wildlife Hospital worked around-the-clock nursing the 18 month old back to health. They started by warming him up, rehydrating him and slowly introducing him to food, beginning with intravenous fluids and then progressing to a ‘fish slurry’ which is easily digestible. Finally Franklin made the leap to solid foods.
Right from the start, despite his immaturity, ‘Franklin’ showed us he had a fighting spirit, and with some extra TLC his health started to steadily improve.
The aim of Taronga’s Wildlife Hospital is to rehabilitate as many patients as possible and send them back out into their natural habitat. But for ‘Franklin’, this was never an option. Under an Australian and Antarctic wildlife agreement, animals washed ashore cannot be returned to the wild in case they introduce foreign diseases to the natural populations, endangering the entire eco-system.
When Franklin arrived at the Hospital, his stomach was full of parasites; it would have been irresponsible and potentially devastating for wild Sub-Antarctic Fur Seals if Franklin was released and introduced a new disease into the population.
Lucky for ‘Franklin’ Taronga Zoo has a wealth of experience with marine mammals, a team of dedicated and passionate Marine Keepers and a state-of-the-art exhibit Great Southern Oceans to provide a permanent home.