Daring custody-row seal wins freedom

25th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

25 October 2004 , AMSTERDAM — Once the centre of an international custody row, a baby seal kidnapped from a Dutch animal sanctuary has been set free to prevent its return to a German zoo.

25 October 2004

AMSTERDAM — Once the centre of an international custody row, a baby seal kidnapped from a Dutch animal sanctuary has been set free to prevent its return to a German zoo.

Baby seal Hannes ... set free

An action group of Dutch and German animal protectionists claimed responsibility for the theft of Hannes at about 3pm on Monday. The group, Free Hannes, gave information that could only be known by the culprits, the sanctuary said.

The action group said Hannes was released in daylight in open and salty water, but refused to reveal where to prevent the launch of a search operation. For the same reason, the group delayed releasing information about the seal's fate.

Earlier on Monday, the Dutch animal sanctuary made an impassioned plea to the culprits who abducted Hannes to make contact. The Pieterburen nursery in Groningen called on the person or people responsible to reveal whether Hannes is okay.
 
Hannes was stolen from the sanctuary on Friday night, but local police decided to keep the theft secret until Monday. It was initially hoped that the culprits would contact the nursery.

Lenie 't Hart of Pieterburen expressed her shock at the abduction: "We haven't had a theft of a seal here in 33 years".

Hannes first hit the headlines after he escaped at the end of August from the German zoo Nordhorn in a daring bid to make it out to sea. He was later caught in the Vecht River at Dalfsen in the Netherlands.

He had swum 80km in four days and was headed towards the IJsselmeer (IJssel Lake) which is isolated from the open sea by the Afsluitdijk. After he was recaptured, Hannes was taken to the Pieterburen seal nursery.

The sanctuary nursery decided to help the Nordhorn zoo when Hannes escaped, on condition that the seal be released into the wild after regaining his strength.

The zoo agreed and Pieterburen employee 't Hart applied for a permit from the Dutch Agriculture Ministry to allow the centre to release  him into the Wadden Sea.

But the German zoo later went back on its agreement to allow the animal's release and the Agriculture Ministry subsequently revoked the release permit. The Dutch nursery was refusing to return to the animal to Nordhorn.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news

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