Makeshift sauna created from wallpaper stripper helps seals with breathing problems

Staff caring for 49 seal pups at an RSPCA centre in Norfolk came up with the inventive idea

Chiara Giordano
Wednesday 14 October 2020 16:59 BST
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Makeshift sauna created from wallpaper stripper helps seals with breathing problems

Poorly seal pups have been enjoying their very own makeshift sauna thanks to RSPCA staff.  

The mobile device, made from a modified wallpaper stripper, is helping to ease breathing problems for the animals at the charity’s centre near King's Lynn in Norfolk.  

The East Winch Wildlife Centre is currently caring for 49 common seal pups who will need weeks or possibly months of specialist treatment before they are strong enough to return to the wild.  

Some of the young mammals are so sick they are said to be fighting for life and need to be fed every three hours.  

But centre manager Alison Charles said the DIY sauna has already made a world of difference to the condition of the seal pups.  

She said: "The seals with respiratory problems get their cubicles steamed twice a day to help them breathe easier.  

"We had previously used veterinary equipment in the past, but it just wasn't strong enough to steam the whole room.  

"So we put our thinking caps on and got creative and made our own mobile sauna unit out of a wallpaper steamer.  

"It even has a timer and it's on a trolley so it can be wheeled from one cubicle to another.  

"It's been modified a bit by us — we place a hose through a hole in the wall into their isolation cubicle, switch it on and the steam fills their room.  

"We have found it makes a real difference to the seals’ breathing — just like a sauna can help us — after they have had a few sessions with the steamer."  

A seal enjoys a DIY sauna at an RSPCA centre
A seal enjoys a DIY sauna at an RSPCA centre (RSPCA/PA)
Seals enjoy a makeshift sauna at an RSPCA centre
Seals enjoy a makeshift sauna at an RSPCA centre (RSPCA/PA)

The pups, who were admitted to the centre at the start of June, are receiving a variety of specialist intensive treatments.  

"We are caring for some really sick seal pups at the moment and most will require weeks, if not months, of specialist care,” said Ms Charles.  

"It's heart-breaking to see how poorly they are and their illness has been from a whole range of things including dehydration, emaciation, peritonitis, septicaemia, wounds, lungworm and esophageal impaction, all which requires very intense nursing including antibiotics, and medicines especially for those with respiratory problems.  

"They are just so weak and dejected and literally fighting each day to survive.  

"It really is so upsetting to see these beautiful creatures all hunched up and their usually bright eyes are now just so dull.  

"Our team works so hard to give these seals a chance, their care takes a long time and they require intensive and very careful nursing."  

Additional reporting by PA  

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