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
07 July 2024 at 18:53
The wonderful Greg McKinney is not only proving to be a natural seal carer during his stay at Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary, but he also produces delightful videos like this one of our two common seal pups Frankie and Munro enjoying the outdoors on some of the infrequent fine days we've been having here in Shetland over the past few weeks. As you can see, the pups are full of beans (mackerel beans, that is)! Music by Roman Senvk #selkie #sealpup #commonseal #harbourseal #hillswick #shetland
Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary
05 July 2024 at 19:31
Our two common seal pups Frankie and Munro are getting to know each other at last. Having managed to get Munro through his early tummy troubles, we introduced him to his new playmate...except his playmate isn't very keen on playing. Every time Munro makes a move towards Frankie - the pup with the distinctive white spot on his forehead - he moves away. Frankie, who has more than doubled in weight since he arrived as a very premature pup weighing just 5 kilos, is now the dominant male. He hogs the pool and keeps Munro in his place. But you can see how much Munro enjoys his time in the water when he does finally get a chance to have a swim. While Frankie enjoys nothing more than sucking on a towel while he's resting out of the water. He's still just a wee pup after all. Once again many thanks to Greg McKinney who is doing a wonderful job looking after these two little pups, tube feeding and moving them on to small pieces of fish. #selkie #sealpup commonseal #harbourseal #shetland
Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary
18 June 2024 at 19:37
Frankie the premature common seal pup continues to move ahead in leaps and bounds. Now twice the weight he was when he was rescued six weeks ago from Rerwick beach, he has now graduated to the paddling pool. Here he is taking his first dip, sliding into the pool, twisting and turning and even blowing bubbles. Clever boy! He's even started to take solids, a few small pieces of fish pushed down his throat. There seems to be no stopping him. All credit to Greg McKinney who is doing the lion's share of caring for the seals at the moment and doing a brilliant job. #selkie #sealpup #commonseal #harbourseal #shetland
Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary
14 June 2024 at 21:54
Today's summer gale washed in our second common seal pup of the season after Stella Oldbury braved the inclement weather to walk her dog on Scousburgh Sands. At the far end of the beach she found this new born pup lying exhausted at the water's edge, its umbilical cord still attached and no sign of its mother anywhere. We contacted Scottish SPCA inspector Vhairi Graham who drove south to rescue the wee fellow, and by chance two young film makers Mattéo and Roman, who are staying with us at the moment, were in the area and met up with Vhairi to bring the pup north to Hillswick. Our good friend Greg who is helping out at the sanctuary has named the pup Munro. He's strong and healthy, and weighs around 10 kilos, twice as much as Frankie when he was rescued a month ago and more what you would expect a new born common seal to weigh. But he is thin and will need feeding up. But for tonight, it's time to rest and recover from his ordeal. If you would like to join the kind and generous community that supports the work we do here at Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary and contribute to Munro's care, please visit Thankyou! #selkie #sealpup #commonseal #scousburgh #shetland
Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary
04 June 2024 at 18:54
Frankie the peerie premature common seal pup rescued from Rerwick a month ago has finally come out of his furry shell. It took three weeks for his lanugo coat to completely come off, revealing a stunning black selkie with a distinguished white patch on the middle of his forehead. Common seals are unique in that, like humans, they moult in the womb - only we’re not born with a fur coat like they are! And Frankie continues to be a delight, full of energy and a heathy appetite. His weight is gradually gaining and he has now passed the 8 kilo mark, heading in the right direction. As every day passes, our confidence in him grows. #selkie #sealpup #commonseal #harbourseal #shetland
Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary
19 May 2024 at 19:44
Feisty wee Frankie, the premature common seal pup rescued from Rerwick two weeks ago, is turning out to be the most delightful character. Not only has he survived coming into captivity, but he seems to be thriving on his diet of fish porridge. He now weighs 7.5 kilos, up from 5 kilos when he arrived at the sanctuary. Normally when a seal starts to moult we would expect them to become somewhat subdued, but not our Frankie. He is constantly on the move, seeking out anywhere he might find mum's nipple (not much chance of that round here), charging up and down the seal unit and blowing bubbles in his wee bowl of water. He is an absolute delight to care for. And now his fur coat is starting to appear, you can see a cool white mark has appeared on his forehead. At this rate he is going to turn into a very handsome young bull seal. #selkie sealpup #commonseal #harbourseal #shetland
Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary
11 May 2024 at 19:50
Much to our relief, Frankie the premature common seal pup continues to thrive one week after he was rescued from Rerwick beach having lost his mum three days earlier. Unfortunately to keep him alive at this stage we have no choice but to force feed him our fish porridge mix by tubing it down his throat. Seal mums do not have protruding nipples, so their pups can't be fed from a bottle. Obviously it's no pleasure for him or for us, but thank goodness Frankie has managed to put on weight since he has been here. Weighing just 5 kilos on arrival - perhaps the smallest pup we have ever taken in - he is now up to 6.5 kilos on four feeds a day. This was filmed on his second day at the sanctuary. So far, so good. What a journey it is with these peerie selkies. They are so delicate. Thankyou to all the people who have so kindly made a donation to help us care for Frankie. We can't tell you how much we appreciate your support. #selkie #sealpup #commonseal #harbourseal #shetland
Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary
06 May 2024 at 20:29
Three months and one day after he arrived at Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary with a head full of wounds, Stroodle the grey seal pup finally made it back to the wild on Sunday. We had been waiting patiently and with some astonishment as his incredible head wound gradually healed to become nothing more than a lightning shaped scar on the top of his head. Our thanks must go to international wildlife vet Romain Pizzi for his advice and reassurance that gave us the confidence to stick with Stroodle until he healed after his entire scalp literally slid off his head. He was always and understandably an angry seal who really did not appreciate being kept in captivity. So it was no great surprise that when it came to tipping him out on the shoreline at Hillswick he took off like a torpedo, so fast that we were barely able to keep up with him on camera. But at least we managed to get some nice underwater ballet moves in the pool before he went. We weighed him when he arrived at 14 kilos...he was 45 by the time he left. So good luck out there Stroodle. We have no doubt you will keep growing in strength and stature. You're a very courageous soul! #selkie #sealpup #greyseal #freedom
Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary
04 May 2024 at 18:25
We were in for a big shock this afternoon when we received a phone call from Tracy Cruickshank in Rerwick about a tiny, hungry seal she had found on the local beach, which is one of Shetland's main seal haul outs. She told us it still had its baby white coat, but we could not believe that a grey seal pup could have been born so late in the season. And sure enough, it turned out to be a premature common seal! Common seals are the only one of the species to moult inside the womb, so if they're found with their baby fur we know that they're premature - and it's more than likely this is why it had been abandoned by its mum. Now we did not expect to start receiving any common seal pups for at least another six or seven weeks, so this has come as a complete surprise. Apparently he was first seen three days ago, but he is so thin he can't have received any of his mother's high fat milk. So he has done extremely well to survive for so long and must be a real little fighter. On arrival he weighed just 5 kilos, which possibly makes him the smallest pup we have ever taken in. So the common seal season has started early and we now have our work cut out keeping this wee fellow alive. On arrival at the sanctuary we initially tubed him with a small amount of rehydration fluid, which immediately set off a bout of hiccups. That's not surprising after going so long without any food. So we'll be taking it slow and gentle with this wee selkie, who Tracy has named Frankie. Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary is run entirely on donations from people like you. If you would like to join the kind and generous people who already support our work, please visit Thankyou so much everyone! #selkie #sealpup #commonseal #harbourseal #rerwick #shetland
Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary
02 May 2024 at 20:22
Stroodle the Magnificent has gone from strength to strength since he has occupied the outside pool for the past month. We have watched with great joy as his horrific head wound gradually closed up and has now reached the point where we feel happy to let him go back to the wild. So this Sunday afternoon he will be released exactly three months and one day after he arrived with a head full of bird pecks. What a journey for this courageous creature, but boy, is he ready to go. We'll be releasing him around 3pm if anyone wants to come along to the sanctuary to see him go. #selkie #sealpup #greyseal #shetland
We love the work we do, but without your help we could not do it. If you feel called to support the sanctuary, please click below. Thankyou.