PUBLISHED: 12:48 22 July 2014 | UPDATED: 13:17 30 August 2017

Not for transmission or publication without express permission of the copyright owner, Simon Burt

Not for transmission or publication without express permission of the copyright owner, Simon Burt

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Europe's eldest common seal becomes a dad at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary

Staff at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary are celebrating as the oldest captive common seal in Europe becomes a dad.

In fact Babyface, who at 37-years-old is one of the oldest residents at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary, has defied the best family planning tactics of his keepers to become a dad again for the second year running.

“He surprised us last year when one of our two females Sija gave birth,” says the sanctuary’s animal care team leader Tamara Cooper.

“When he arrived from Colchester Zoo in 2010 we thought we we’re providing him with an ideal retirement home,” she adds. “At his ripe old age - over 80 in human terms - we assumed his breeding days were over, but while last year’s pup was unexpected, the latest arrival is a minor miracle.

“Our primary goal here is rescue, and we haven’t really got the capacity for breeding anyway, so Sija and older female Luna were both prescribed contraceptives following the birth of pup Bo’ last June,” says Tamara. “Either Babyface is a real superstud or they just weren’t effective.”

Any disappointment over the unplanned birth was banished the instant Tamara and her colleagues clapped eyes on the bonny new bundle, however.

He or she (gender has yet to be determined) follows mum Sija like a shadow, but is clearly fascinated by every new sight and experience.

Babyface, who lost an eye to infection many years ago and looks a true gangster’ of the marine world, has now been exiled to the adjacent pool with son Bo.

“We’ll re-unite him with the rest of the family when the breeding season is over, and make sure he’s back with Bo well before the start of the next one,” said Tamara.

In spite of his exile, most Sanctuary staff members are convinced that Babyface is looking just a tiny bit smug in his new temporary quarters.

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