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
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
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
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