How do we take care of seals?
The seal nurses act in such a way that there is less chance of transmitting diseases and that it causes as little stress as possible for the animals. The seals that come to us are very weak. The intake process is already stressful for them, so we want to avoid stress wherever it is possible. We call it no-stress policy.
Care order in phase 1
The order between care units is very important. We start with the healthiest animals first and the sickest animals last in the care round. We want to prevent the healthier seals from becoming ill just before they are allowed to go outside. In phase 1, there may be very sick animals in one quarantine, while the seals in the quarantine next to it are almost ready for phase 2.
If there is a seal with a virus in the last quarantine, the caretakers must shower and wash their hair before they can go to another enclosure.
Silence and rest
During the care, the nurses hardly talk to each other. It is discussed in advance what needs to be done. But once in the enclosures, it is important that we are as quiet as possible. We also do not make any sudden movements.
We ensure that a seal only needs to be caught once. They are wild animals (and predators, too). They do not like to be touched or picked up by humans. That causes them a lot of stress. We try to avoid that as much as possible. Moreover, it is also nicer for the nurses if they only have to catch the seal once: there is a higher chance of being bitten during catching.
However, grabbing a seal is necessary at rehabilitation. For example, to feed or to give medicines. Then we give food, medicine and do a medical check while the animal is held by the nurse. When all is done, the seal is released again.
The best way to prevent the transmission of diseases is to make sure everything is clean. All care units are therefore thoroughly cleaned every day. Not only that, but also the kitchen where the food is prepared, the corridors through which the nurses walk, the clothing and equipment are regularly cleaned.
Seals that are in an enclosure together are not moved to a new enclosure until they are all ready to move on to the next stage. This way we know for sure that they cannot bring any illnesses from a sick(er) roommate to the new pool. The care unit where the seals used to be is then completely empty and can be cleaned and disinfected for the next patients.
Each unit has its own materials for the caretakers. Think of:
- Rain gear
- Protective equipment
- Cleaning products
- Brooms and squeegees
All these materials are disinfected after each use and reused as much as possible. In this way we ensure that every place has clean material to work with and we also reduce the amount of waste.
All employees and volunteers undergo extensive training before they start their work in seal care. It is important that they know how to handle these animals. Seals are predators, so they can bite! But in addition, the hygiene protocols and guidelines are essential to the training. Each care unit also has an overview of the protocols that apply there.
Visitors do not have access to the care units. They can view the phase 1 enclosures from behind glass, and the phase 2 and phase 3 pools can be viewed from a distance. Visitors don't have to follow the same hygiene rules as we do, because they don't get close enough to the seals.
It is strictly forbidden to bring pets to the Sealcentre. There are a number of diseases that transmit very easily from seals to other animals and vice versa. These kinds of diseases are called zoonoses.