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Page 28 ( 8 pages)
Each spring, new lodgers appear at the rehabilitation center known as “Seal.”
Caring residents from across Primorye deliver sick animals to the small village of Tavrichanka:
cubs who have been separated from their mothers, been wounded, or been covered with oil.
At the center, the animals are fed and restored to health, so that in July they can be returned to the sea.
Ten years ago, writer and artist Lora Beloivan was living in Vladivostok and planning to move to Moscow. Instead she ended up moving to the small village of Tavrichanka, just 49 kilometers northwest of Vladivostok.
It happened like this.
Lora and her husband were walking on the shore one day when they found a small, sick seal beneath a circling unkindness of ravens. They rescued it, named it Chuvyrla (a colloquialism for an unattractive girl), and took it home, to their bathtub.
How does one nurse such an animal back to health? No one in Vladivostok had any idea, and there was no information to be found on the internet. So the couple got in touch with an Irish rehabilitation center, which gave them the information they needed, and Chuvyrla was put on the mend.
But then, two weeks later, the pup died from an unexpected allergy to an antihistamine drug.
The couple took it hard. Yet the experience showed them that they wanted to learn how to care for sick seal pups and prepare them to return to the wild. They bought a house in Tavrichanka, then went off for training at rehab centers in Ireland, the Netherlands, and the US. They gained invaluable and unique experience, returning to Tavrichanka to found Seal, Russia’s first rehabilitation center for sea mammals. Over the past decade the couple has returned some 40 seals to the wild. They now work to pass on their expertise to other seal savers in St. Petersburg and Sakhalin.
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