An inquisitive herd of cows was all it took to prompt Ian Ellis, who was birdwatching at Frampton Marsh nature reserve in Lincolnshire, U.K., to take a closer look through his telescope late last month.
But instead of a bird, when Ellis looked closer, he was startled to see a seal pup peering back at him. The seal was stuck in a mud puddle while curious cows looked on.
According to ABC News, the animal likely swam into the marsh when the nearby North Sea was at high tide, only to become trapped after the tide receded.
Ellis, 67, looked for the tiny pup's mother, then decided to call for help when he couldn't find her. He got in touch with Toby Collett, a warden with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and Duncan Yeadon, a director at the Skegness Natureland Seal Sanctuary.
Yeadon gave Ellis and Collett instructions on how to pick up the pup, believed to be only about 5 days old, and move her to safety. Then he arranged for the tiny animal to be transported back to Natureland for rehabilitation.
"Once we got the pup back to Natureland, she went straight into the Seal Hospital to begin treatment," Yeadon said in a Facebook post, recounting the animal's epic journey. "Her main problem is that at only 5 days old, she was orphaned and therefore had not fed for a while, she had lost quite a lot of weight and was dehydrated.”
The animal, named Celebration, has been put on antibiotics to treat a respiratory infection and has been more than happy to eat plenty of "high fat herrings" to help her bulk up to a healthy weight.
Yeadon said they'll release the seal back into the wild once she reaches 60 to 70 pounds and can feed in the water by herself.