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Last Updated: Saturday, 16 June 2007, 10:01 GMT 11:01 UK
Delight as bald seal's fur grows
Sahara now
Sahara has been at the Cornish sanctuary since April
Workers at a Cornish seal sanctuary say they are breathing a sigh of relief after a rare hooded seal, which had lost its fur, has grown it all back.

It means plans to release Sahara, who was bald when he was found on a beach in the Canary Islands, can now be made.

The seal was also massively overweight when he was found in Tenerife, hundreds of miles from his Arctic home.

A strict diet at Gweek's National Seal Sanctuary paid off and his fur grew back after annual moulting time.

Satellite tag

"All we could do was keep our fingers crossed and hope that he would grow a normal fur coat when the time came for what, in ordinary circumstances, would be his annual moult," said Tamara Cooper, animal care assistant.

Hooded seals are a migratory species. Their native waters are in the Arctic although they do occasionally visit Europe.

Sahara then
As well as being bald Sahara was also overweight when he arrived

Planning for his release in the very early stages but rescued hooded seals have occasionally headed south again even after being released as far north as the Shetlands.

So sanctuary staff believe Sahara will eventually need a lift all the way to the Arctic.

"We're hoping to be able to recruit the aid of a scientific expedition or perhaps one of the armed forces to get Sahara back where he belongs," said Tamara.

The sanctuary also hopes to raise enough money to fit 12-month-old Sahara, who has been at Gweek since April, with a satellite tag to track his progress.

"For the time being we are just grateful that he at least has the chance of a normal life again," said Ms Cooper.




SEE ALSO
'Hair-raising trip' for bald seal
05 Apr 07 |  Cornwall
Hat trick helping track seal pups
28 Aug 06 |  Cornwall
Partner sought for sad sea lion
17 Mar 06 |  Cornwall

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