Freddie Mercury the Seal Dies From His Injuries

Decision made to put him down due to severity of dog attack wounds

Freddie at the South Essex Wildlife Hospital
Freddie at the South Essex Wildlife Hospital. Picture: BDMLR


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The seal injured after being attacked by a dog in Barnes this Sunday (21 March) has been put down after veterinary experts decided his wounds were too severe.

After the attack, the seal pup known as Freddie Mercury had been handed over to the care of a team at the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) and was being treated at the South Essex Wildlife Hospital in Tilbury.

He had suffered serious injuries, including to his right flipper. X-rays showed Freddie had suffered a broken bone, dislocation as well as damage to his joints, ligaments and nerves.

It was decided that there were no circumstances in which he would have been able to return to the wild and the decision was taken to euthanise him.

A BDMLR statement said, “We contacted a number of marine mammal veterinarians in the UK and the Netherlands, including an orthopaedic surgeon, and sadly based on their experiences the decision is that he needed to be euthanised for his welfare.

"We would be unable to release a seal back into the wild with one flipper, if amputation was an option, as we have a firm policy on not putting animals into captivity, and the seal's welfare must be put first and foremost."

The seal pup, who was given the name Freddie Mercury by locals after appearing a slipway near Hammersmith Bridge on several occasions, was in his usual spot when set upon at around 12.30pm.

Passers-by, including a vet who happened to be present, intervened to separate the two animals and provide care for the injured seal. Two of the people who helped were injured, on bitten and one butted by the seal as it panicked during the attack.

BDMLR's CEO Alan Knight said, "We hope that his story will go a long way to helping educate people to look up and follow the appropriate guidelines for how to behave respectfully around wild animals and not cause disturbance or worse to them."

ZSL conservation programme manager Alison Debney said she was “saddened to hear the death of Freddie the seal.”

She added, “Londoners are lucky to live side by side with such amazing wildlife, and we urge the public to follow our code of conduct when they spot important marine mammals such as seals – these include keeping your distance, making sure dogs are kept on leads at all times around these incredible animals, and reporting suspected live strandings to British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR).”

Richmond Police also released a statement today on the incident sayin, “We are investigating the death of a seal, named locally as Freddie, after it was injured by a dog on the River Thames near Hammersmith Bridge.

“Officers attended the location at approximately 12:39pm on Sunday 21 March along with colleagues from the London Fire Brigade

“They recovered the young pup from the river bank and it was taken to a rescue centre for treatment, but unfortunately had to be put down later, due to injuries sustained in the incident.

“Officers are looking to identify witnesses and to speak to the owner of the dog involved

“Please do contact us with any and all information on 101 quoting reference: 0702604/21

“Our enquiries continue, but we would like to thank the members of the public that stepped in to assist Freddie during the incident. The RSPCA has been informed.”

The animal welfare charity, Blue Cross, which helps educate the public in the responsibilities of animal ownership also released a statement on the incident.

Ryan Neile, Head of Behaviour said the team were “deeply saddened to hear about the passing of a beautiful animal like Freddie the seal.”

He added, “Regardless of age and size, all dogs are predatory animals, and although over the years we’ve bred them for different purposes, many retain strong instincts to chase and hunt prey animals.

“Those specifically bred for hunting will tend to have stronger instincts than other breeds, however all dogs have the potential to carry out these behaviours unless carefully socialised and appropriately trained.

“As dog owners our responsibility to ensure our dogs are kept under control at all times (on and off lead) must be taken seriously, particularly in areas where there is wildlife. Always seek help from qualified reward-based trainers to resolve any issues you are having with your dog.”.

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March 23, 2021