Makeshift sauna created at RSPCA centre to help seals with breathing problems

Seals are enjoying a makeshift sauna at an RSPCA centre after staff created one from a wallpaper stripper.

The device has helped ease breathing problems for seal pups, said Alison Charles, manager at RSPCA East Winch Wildlife Centre near King’s Lynn in Norfolk.

The centre is currently caring for 49 common seal pups who will need weeks and possibly months of specialist care to help them get strong enough to return to the wild.

Ms Charles 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.”

The pups, who have been admitted to the centre since the start of June, are receiving a variety of specialist intensive treatments.

“The steaming is actually just a tiny part of the care we provide to help these poor seals,” Ms Charles added.

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

“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.

“As well as this, the 16 seal pups in our isolation unit also require three-hourly feeds.

“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.”