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The BBC's Lucy Hester
"She can't even take her daily bath"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 1 December, 1999, 18:26 GMT
Rescued seal is 'aquaphobic'
Seal Marge won't take the plunge

Workers at a seal sanctuary in North Yorkshire are scratching their heads after a discovering a seal pup they rescued has developed a bizarre phobia.

Marge, a six-week-old grey seal picked up two weeks ago, is terrified of going back into the water.

The pup was found battered and bruised on a beach at Tynemouth, near Newcastle, and has been undergoing treatment at the Sea Life Centre in Scarborough.

Her condition has improved greatly but she seems unable to complete the next vital step of her recovery and take the plunge.

Julie Ions, who works at the centre, says: "When she's in the water she's very, very frightened."


"She can only tolerate a couple of inches of water"
Julie Ions


"She can only tolerate a couple of inches of water, any more and it's just not fair to put her in there as she gets terribly scared."

Centre Manager Ian Hawkins says the pup is traumatised after apparently suffering what he called a "near-death experience".

"It has been stormy and I think she has probably been pushed up onto the shore and battered about," said Mr Hawkins.

Embarrassed

Marge is eating solid fish now after being weaned off liquid food.

She can also take a shower under a hose but, for the moment at least, is an embarrassed bystander at the centre's convalesence pool.

"We can't send her out to join our other resident and recuperating seals with a mortal fear of water - she'd be a laughing stock," said Ms Ions.

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