BOSSES at St Andrews Aquarium have today announced that they are eagerly anticipating the arrival of a new, and very unusual resident.
Togo is an one year-old harbour seal, an endangered species, who is set to jet into the Scottish city of Aberdeen this Thursday afternoon thanks to the assistance of Aberdeen-based airline, bmi Regional.
The aptly-named ‘Togo’ was born at the Fisheries and Maritime Museum in Esbjerg, Denmark, and just celebrated his first birthday earlier this week on Tuesday 19th July.
Harbour seals are in steep decline in the UK and their endangered status means that Aquariums can only accept the transfer of seals which have been born in another Aquarium, itself a rare occurrence.
After clearing immigration at BAA’s Aberdeen Airport, Togo will be transported by road in the final leg of his 1253km journey to join St Andrews Aquarium’s lovable seal, Laurel, whose former partner, Hardy, was swept away during a freak storm in 2010.
John Mace, manager of St Andrews Aquarium, commented: “We have been trying to find Laurel a new companion for months and it has not been an easy task.
“We were absolutely delighted when we found that the Fisheries and Maritime Museum in Esbjerg had a young pup who is one of three seal pups born to Nelly. We were so very lucky.
“We’re also grateful for bmi for their help in assisting with the journey for Togo and making it as straightforward as possible.”
The transporting of a seal is no easy task, but bosses at bmi Regional were quick to rise to the challenge.
Paul Alcock, director of Operations , bmi Regional, commented: “Togo will be in very capable hands from the minute he reaches the airport in Esbjerg until the minute he lands in Aberdeen and is handed over to the Aquarium team.
“We have been touched by the story of Togo and his journey to start his new life in St Andrews and we’re pleased to be helping him on his way.”
Charlotte Thöstesen, a biologist with the Fisheries and Maritime Museum in Esbjerg, has been responsible for caring for Togo since he was born.
She commented: “We are so excited for him – this is a great big adventure for this young seal. He knows there’s something happening – we’ve had him secured in isolation for the past week in preparation for his journey to Scotland and he’s particularly curious about why he’s been separated from his brothers and sisters.
“We will really miss him but we’re sure he will settle in very quickly at St Andrews Aquarium and will easily make friends with Laurel, his new playmate.”
Laurel, St Andrews Aquarium’s resident seal just celebrated her 20th birthday in June and recently had an upgrade to a new saltwater seal pool. The arrival of Togo will be, for her, the icing on the cake.
Laurel, who has been with St Andrews Aquarium since she was a pup, is one of the main attractions for visitors to the centre. Laurel has been living the single girl’s lifestyle for over a year and now has one of the biggest seal pools in the whole of the UK.
Togo, who is 19 years her junior, and about one fifth her size, is expected to become a major attraction for visitors to the Aquarium this summer but local children won’t be getting the opportunity to rename the seal, which has fast become one of the Aquarium’s traditions.
Togo’s trip to Scotland is not his only international connection.
Following a city-wide fundraising campaign in 2010 for international children’s charity UNICEF, the City of Esbjerg raised $1.6million for Togo, a West African country that borders Ghana.
The Fisheries and Maritime Museum opted to name their newest pup Togo in honour of the city’s fundraising efforts.
Charlotte Thöstesen commented: “We are very glad that Togo will keep his name.
“Then there will always be a link between him and the City of Esbjerg in Denmark, as well as a nod to his new international lifestyle.”
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