A baby seal pup, which was born at the weekend, is enchanting visitors to Tynemouth’s Blue Reef Aquarium.
Benji, who was born on July 5th, is the first seal pup ever to have been bred at the North Tyneside wildlife attraction.
The harbour seal pup weighed around five kilogrammes when he was born but has already started piling on weight, with the help of mum Selina.
It was a double cause for celebration for Selina as she also celebrated her 13th birthday this month.
Keepers kept a close eye on them for the first few days, however both mother and baby are progressing extremely well – much to the delight of staff and visitors alike.
Blue Reef’s Anna Pellegrino said: “It’s been a very nervy wait for all of us but Selina is turning out to be an amazing mother and Benji is growing really fast!
“He’s fascinated with exploring his new home and is already swimming and diving confidently under the watchful eye of Selina and his dad Marvolo,” she added.
Pups are born on land but are able to swim and dive within hours. They remain dependent on their mother’s milk for up to four weeks and can expect to more than double their birth weight each week during that time.
Benji is the aquarium’s fifth harbour seal. All are captive bred, with females Loffe and Selina coming from Norway and the males Marvolo and Sofus coming from Denmark.
Marvolo is the largest seal, he’s also the most mischievous and was named after the character from Harry Potter – he particularly enjoys having his teeth brushed.
Since arriving at the aquarium in 2007 the four seals have become firm favourites with staff and visitors alike – and their keepers have formed particularly close bonds with them.
Seal Cove contains more than 650,000 litres of seawater and features man-made islands, underwater caves, diving pools and a cascading waterfall.