Throughout these locked-down times, zoos and seal sanctuaries alike have generally had it hard, but a certain family-run seal sanctuary in Skegness is shining brighter by the day
During the first lockdown early last year, Natureland in Skegness suffered a faulty sea pump which required them needing a new drainage system fed into the pool. This cost the company thousands of pounds. On top of that, staff who were not furloughed had to stay at the premises to keep the animals looked after. Overall, per month it costs approximately £40,000 monthly to keep a seal sanctuary afloat. However, thanks to the public support and some small government funding, including the furlough scheme, they haven’t sunk under such murky waters.
“We also had a JustGiving page and Amazon wish list – and our regular visitors were really generous with donations,” said Natureland director Daisy Yeadon
And it’s no wonder why Natureland receive so much public love and support. Last year in July the company launched a £25,000 appeal, with the hope to fund the care of seal pups before their release back into the oceans, at a cost of £2,000 per pup. In recent times, shortly before reopening, they had a new star attraction to welcome visitors when Pixie the seal gave birth to her third pup.
“People have been lovely,” continued Daisy. “Some of our supporters who usually donate online were ringing us up to ask how we were and it meant the world to us. There were some very worrying times but throughout it all we were honest with our staff – we are like a big family – and hopefully, now we are back open, we can pull through.
“Our keeper Simon Ashburn has been busy renovating the reptile house, giving it a lick of paint and adding some foliage to make it look more tropical. We also put netting over the penguins to protect them from an outbreak of bird flu. We’ve been doing our best to get ready for people returning without spending too much money. We’d love to update the sanctuary but we just don’t have the money right now.”
Now that COVID-related restrictions are starting to be lifted, people are out and about again in the sunshine visiting the attraction. The Standard spoke with Amy and James Taylor from Lancashire, who were on holiday at Southview Leisure Park in Skegness with their 13-month-old lockdown baby, Albert.
“I used to come here when I was a child and it’s lovely to be able to bring Albert now,” commented Amy.
James said: “It feels a really said environment and we are just happy to support a smaller zoo like this because they haven’t had a lot of government support and have been struggling without visitors.”
Until May 17, only the outside areas are open to the public. Visitors can enjoy watching the resident seals in the main pool, see those recovering in the hospital and the rearing pool and watch the meerkats, penguins and goats. The reptile house, butterfly house, aquarium and cafe will reopen on May 17.
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