A popular seal sanctuary in Skegness is experiencing serious financial difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Natureland Seal Sanctuary has repeatedly been closed as a result of the Government’s national lockdowns from March and November of 2020 and January 2021 respectively, leading to a lack of visitor funding.
Natureland is home to seals that are rehabilitated after being found washed up off the coastlines of Lincolnshire. They usually appear after being separated from their families due to strong tides before being cared for and eventually sent back into the wild.
Matthew Yeadon, director of the sanctuary, said that they’re ‘in a tight spot at the moment’ and need £100,000 to survive.
“It has been difficult because all the money is going out and not a lot is really coming in,” he said.
Mr Yeadon said things ‘will be getting busy’ in the coming months with more seals to be rescued, thus adding to the costs of rehabilitating them.
“It’s coming to the end of the grey seal rescue season and we have about six or seven in the rearing pool. Common seal season is coming, and things will be getting busy”.
Mr Yeadon said it costs approximately £2,000 per seal to rehabilitate, before stating ”we have 60 to 70 each year, so that adds up to around £140,000 per year”.
“We’re saving where we can and we did have money in savings before it (the pandemic) kicked off, and we set up two JustGiving pages which helped us; people donated including support from our friends at the seal hospital” said Mr Yeadon.
As well as seals, Natureland also houses penguins, meerkats and also holds a tropical house containing a number of reptiles from crocodiles, pythons and iguanas.
Dennis Drew, director of the Mablethorpe Seal Sanctuary and Wildlife Centre, said they were in a “similar boat” but were willing to help if possible.
“If we ourselves could extend and help out Natureland, we would. It’s been popular in Skegness for many years,” he said.
Mr Drew has also set up a fundraiser to help the Mablethorpe sanctuary.
Mr Yeadon says this summer will be “make or break” for the sanctuary, hoping that visitor income can save it.
“If everything goes to plan, anybody who is a little cautious of going abroad could come to Skegness and create quite the income for us”.