Natureland Seal Sanctuary in Skegness has been rescuing, rehabilitating, and re-releasing orphaned and injured seals since it was founded by John Yeadon in 1965.
Today Daisy Yeadon, John’s granddaughter, is co-director of Natureland with her cousin Matt. Along with a small team, they rescue between 60 to 70 seal pups each year.
However, Daisy estimates that COVID-19 and associated restrictions have cost Natureland upwards of £300,000 and, without visitors, the sanctuary itself stands little chance of survival.
With the third lockdown in place, Natureland is completely closed and has no regular income. If funds run out, so too does the luck of vulnerable seal pups.
However, the team at Natureland is determined to continue the important conservation work. Daisy said: “The welfare of our animals is top of our list and we have to keep things running as normal.”
On average, the rehabilitation of one seal pup costs Natureland £2,000. More than £300 is spent weekly on frozen fish for the rescued seals.
The care of full-time residents (penguins, meerkats, sheep, and an unruly goat called Henry to name just a few) brings the bill up to over £6,000 per month.
For Daisy, this financial strain is a constant concern and she said: “With no one coming through the door we have no money coming in and it’s really worrying.”
Natureland has outdoor enclosures and thus had the option to open to the public before the third lockdown took hold.
However, the precautions necessary due to COVID-19 were a further drain on funds, especially at the quietest time of year.
Daisy added: “There are so many extra costs. You’ve got to provide hand-sanitiser and paint the floor with signs saying ‘this way’ for the protection of visitors.
“It’s easier to not have to think about that and focus on the animals’ welfare.”
Faced with these vast outgoings, Natureland has set up a Justgiving page with a goal of £100,000.
They still have a long way to go, but Daisy is grateful for everything Natureland has received so far.
She said: “Our supporters have been the best thing to come out of all of this. They just donate, they don’t want anything in return.
“These people have been affected by COVID as well, they have lost their jobs, they’re making less money, but they are helping us with anything they can.’
Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on February 24, Daisy expects to reopen Natureland’s outdoor enclosures on April 12.
Although this does provide a glimmer of hope, the sanctuary faces a further month without income, and there are more orphaned seal pups in the North Sea in need of Natureland’s help.