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Page last updated at 13:56 GMT, Thursday, 16 September 2010 14:56 UK
Lonely seal leaves Colchester Zoo for new companions
Thirty-two year-old common seal 'Babyface '
One eyed seal Babyface has been at Colchester Zoo for the past 26 years

A 32-year-old harbour seal has left his home at Colchester Zoo for Cornwall so he can have some female company.

'Babyface', who has been at the zoo for 26 years, has gone to the National Seal Sanctuary after his long-term partner, Jasmine, died earlier this year.

He will spend the remainder of his life in the company of female seals Luna and Sija at the sanctuary in Gweek.

"We're sad to see him go, but he'll be with some females which will be lovely for him," said the zoo's Kate Broad.

"I've worked with him for a long time and recently we've done a lot of different training with him, lots of husbandry medical behaviours and checks with him, like opening his mouth so we can check his teeth.

"So we have been doing a lot of work with him and it is sad to see him go, but I will be going down to see him as soon as I can."

He's very keen to work for his food, so I would like to think that he will be settling in very quickly
Kate Broad, head keeper of the sea lion section at Colchester Zoo

Kate, who is the head keeper of the sea lion section, explained Babyface had been on his own in the enclosure after his former partner Jasmine, with whom he had fathered several pups, died after surgery earlier in the year.

"He could spend quite a bit of time on his own as male harbour seal, but it is nice to have a bit of company for him," she said.

"He and Jasmine spent a lot of time together, so he is used to being with other seals."

Babyface, who has been at Colchester Zoo for 26 years, was transported to his new home in a crate by road, a journey expected to take around seven hours.

Kate believed he would settle in to his new surroundings quite quickly.

The seal enclosure at Colchester Zoo
The now empty seal enclosure will soon become home to otters

"From how he's been in the past when we've moved him out for enclosure modifications and things like that, he always settles in quickly," she said.

"He's very keen to work for his food, so I would like to think that he will be settling in very quickly.

"So even by the second day he should be starting to adjust to his new surroundings and the new seals that he's going to meet."

The seal enclosure will now be redeveloped for the arrival of some smooth coated otters which are coming to the zoo for the first time.




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