For the love of wildlife
Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary rescues seals, otters and cetaceans that are in trouble and help rehabilitate them to be released back into the wild.

As Shetland’s only wildlife sanctuary, we have been caring for sick, injured and abandoned seals and otters since 1987, successfully rehabilitating and releasing hundreds of creatures back into the wild.We also help coordinate the rescue of stranded whales, dolphins and porpoises around Shetland’s 1,700 mile long coastline.

We rely on donations to continue our work… your support is greatly appreciated.
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Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary
29 March 2024 at 20:26
We have watched with amazement over the past month at the way Stroodle has continued to recover from the severe head wound that left him without a scalp after bird pecks became infected and loosened all the skin so that it simply fell off his head. Since he arrived two months ago this magnificent young seal has shown the most incredible resolve to heal and get back out to the wild where he came from in early February. He's a ferocious character and a real challenge to handle, but no doubt his courageous attitude is helping him heal. We first shifted him outside to one of the smaller pools to avoid Lulu, who had sealpox. Then this week we managed (with some difficulty) to haul him out of the small pool and carry him to the large pool after Lulu was released at the weekend. Now we have to wait while he eats and eats, getting fatter and fatter, until the wound is sufficiently healed for him to head out to sea. How long that will take only time can tell. #selkie #sealpup #greyseal #shetland
Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary
27 March 2024 at 21:26
After weeks and weeks of gales and storms, a weather window finally arrived last weekend to release the lovely Lulu, the grey seal pup found on St Ninian's Isle during the January storms. When Lulu was rescued she weighed a mere 9 kilos - the smallest grey seal pup we have ever taken in and a good 5 kilos less than you would expect a newborn grey to weigh, even though she was already at least a month old. She was also covered in wounds from what we presume were bird pecks, though thankfully these soon healed. Unfortunately during her time here she came down with sealpox, a herpes virus similar to chickenpox, which is harmless but highly contagious, and which meant she had to be kept in isolation from the other seals. Two weeks ago we moved her into the big pool after Skye was released so she could get some good exercise and build up her strength, and then it was just a matter of waiting for an opportunity to let her go. In the meantime she grew fatter and fatter, so that by the time she left the sanctuary we weighed her in at 35 kilos! A great big plumptious pudding! However...when it came to heading out into her new home in the wild, Lulu was none to keen. When we tipped her out of her tub, she did a quick about turn and started walloping back where she came from as fast as she could. It took considerable prompting to persuade here to head in the right direction, but when she finally got it there was no stopping her and we watched with joy the bow wave spread out behind her as she raced out to sea. Fare thee well, Lulu. Have a great life out there in the wild. #selkie #sealpup #greyseal #sealrelease #shetland #gowild
Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary
11 March 2024 at 22:40
Skye, the grey seal pup who was rescued from West Voe beach at Sumburgh after being battered by Shetland's winter storms, finally made it back to the wild at the weekend after six weeks at the sanctuary. When he arrived one of his front flippers was too painful to move and he had a large swelling on one of his rear flippers. But a couple of weeks later he was well enough to be slipped into the big pool outside while the snow was still on the ground and after a few weeks of building up his strength and his belly fat he was ready to go. We thought so at least, but when it came to the big moment he wasn't so sure and immediately headed straight back inland. But with a bit of persuasion he set off into the sea where we left him looking quite at home. Swim wild, young Skye! Many thanks to Richard and Alison and to our new helpers Jasmine and Mike for helping out on the big day. #selkie #sealpup #greyseal #gowild
Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary
25 February 2024 at 22:07
Stroodle the grey seal pup from Scousburgh Sands who lost his scalp from an infection caused, we believe, by bird pecks, continues with his miraculous recovery. He seems unconcerned these days about the huge wound on his head, which seems to be healing well and to our amazement appears to be slowly shrinking. Now all he cares about is eating as much fish as he possibly can, which is the best sign that we could have hoped for. Long may his recovery continue. Many thanks to wildlife vet Romain Pizzi for his sage advice that gave us the confidence to continue with Stroodle's care. #selkie #greyseal #sealpup #shetland
Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary
24 February 2024 at 22:28
The lovely Lulu from St Ninian's Isle is getting plumper by the day. She is such a short wee seal that she just gets rounder and rounder. She's a bit frustrated having to be stuck in one the smaller isolation pools because of her seal pox, but we want to protect the others from getting this highly infectious condition. Not that it's causing Lulu any worries - she just wants more space (and fish!). Not long to go now before she can get out to the freedom of the ocean where she will have all the space she could ever want. #selkie #sealpup #greyseal #shetland
Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary
16 February 2024 at 22:02
WARNING: GRAPHIC WOUND IMAGES. The magnificent grey seal pup Stroodle never ceases to amaze us. A week ago we were shocked to the core when his entire scalp of skin simply slid off his head while we were feeding him. We were horrified and honestly thought this would mean curtains for Stroodle. However after consulting with our favourite vet Romain Pizzi we were given hope that this was not a case of gangrene or necrosis that would mean he would have to be euthanised. So we braced ourselves to continue working with him over the past week until he finished his 10 day course of antibiotics. At first he was just furious and fearful, but we persisted. Then three days ago he started showing signs of eating independently. Now we can hardly keep up with his appetite! The horrific wound on his head has started to heal and now that he no longer needs medication, we no longer need to straddle Stroodle to force a fish with a pill in its gills down his throat, which is a huge relief for both him and us. As long as we keep his wound clean he should continue to heal, though we have been warned this could take quite a long time. All we can assume is that the original wounds, probably caused by birds, became infected and the infection spread and undermined his skin. So hopefully he is now on the road to recovery. He must be just about the most courageous young seal we have ever had the privilege of dealing with. Thankyou everyone for your kind thoughts and prayers since the last post about him. We have no doubt whatsoever that they have helped with his healing. #selkie #sealpup #greyseal #shetland
Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary
09 February 2024 at 23:37
The incredible grey seal pup Stroodle, rescued from the storms off Scousburgh Sands last weekend, is really struggling against some terrible wounds to his head. What started out as a few relatively small splits in his skin, which we thought had been caused by bird pecks, have joined up to create huge cracks right across his head. He is astonishingly courageous and full of determination, but so far the wounds are not showing any real signs of healing up. We have been assured by vets that he should eventually recover, however it is likely to take quite some time. For the moment he is on a course of antibiotics and we have moved him into the paddling pool zone where he can swim and clean up the wounds, washing off any dead matter. It is heartbreaking to have to handle him when he is in such pain and discomfort, but we have no choice. And his spirit is strong so he clearly intends to give it all he's got. Here's hoping! #selkie #sealpup #greyseal #shetland
Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary
08 February 2024 at 22:23
The big day arrived today for Boots and Dotty who both came to the sanctuary after a trip from Orkney on NorthLink Ferries after being rescued and kept overnight by the local British Divers Marine Life Rescue volunteers. Since then they have grown from being skinny seal pups to great big blubber balls who had put on so much weight by the time of their release that it felt like a serious work out carrying them from the sanctuary's salt water pool to the sea (which is why we employed the quad bike). It could not have been a more beautiful day of sunshine and snow for the great occasion...and when their moment of freedom finally came, neither seal hesitated - though Boots did head in the wrong direction for a moment and start going inland instead of out to sea. But it wasn't long before they were out of sight and perhaps even swimming back to the Orkney islands where they were born. Go wild girls, go free! #selkie #sealpups #greyseals #shetland #orkney #freedom
Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary
07 February 2024 at 21:59
The beautiful peerie selkie Lulu who was rescued from St Ninian's Isle last month has had to move outside into a separate pool to be quarantined as she has developed seal pox. There is only a single blister right in the middle of her chest, but as the virus (related to the herpes virus) is so infectious we must keep her apart from our other residents. However the tiny seal pup is quite happy in her new pool on her own tearing up fish to her heart's content. Chances are she'll have to stay isolated until we release her, but we'll wait and see. There is no treatment for seal pox, it has to be allowed to run its course and as you can see, it's not debilitating Lulu in any way. We just need to protect the other seals. #selkie #sealpup #greyseal #shetland #sealpox
Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary
06 February 2024 at 22:44
Our handsome grey seal pup Skye who washed up on Sumburgh's West Voe beach in the fierce storms 11 days ago has been struggling with his injuries. We were worried he would be unable to use his front right flipper, but he has gained some flexibility in it over the past few days. The swelling on his rear flipper has also reduced and as a result he is in less pain and has come much more to life, climbing in and out of his pool and gulping down fish like they are going out of fashion. We'll be able to put him outside in the big pool when the snow departs, when he will really be able to get fat and fit before heading back to the ocean waves and the wild life where he belongs. #selkie #sealpup #greyseal #shetland
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