Page last updated at 19:53 GMT, Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Baby seal in garden named Rudolph

Rudolph the seal
The Dwyers named the goldfish-loving seal Rudolph

A family who found a baby seal in their back garden in Kent 18 miles from the sea named her Rudolph, saying she was a "brilliant Christmas present".

The pup, which the RSPCA said was less than a year old, was in the Dwyer family's garden in Benenden on Monday morning when they let out pet dog Jack.

"We could see it came from the stream at the end of the garden from tracks in the snow," said Harriet Dwyer.

"I heard Jack barking and went over to see what looked like a huge slimy cat."

It is thought the seal got into the stream from the River Rother, which meets the English Channel at Rye.

Storms or floods

"It got in our pond and I think it ate some of my parents' goldfish," said Miss Dwyer.

"Jack is a collie and rounded it up a bit and it eventually settled in the herb garden by the corner of the house."

The RSPCA is now caring for the seal, which has been renamed Gulliver, at Mallydams Wood Wildlife Centre near Hastings in East Sussex.

Keeper Elaine Crouch said baby seals often became separated from their mothers in bad weather such as storms or floods.

"This one is a really good weight, and not starving but has been completely lost," she said.

"She has a a tag from Belgium, probably put on by the rehabilitation centre at Ostend, then she got into the River Rother and ended up in the stream."

John Young meets Rudolph, or Gulliver the travelling seal, and her companion at the RSPCA's Mallydams Wood centre

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