New York City's own Whale Research and Advocacy Organization
The staff was simply overwhelmed, not only because of the added work during the day, but also because the pups needed to be fed in the early morning and at mid-night to ensure a uniform caloric intake. New parents can appreciate the drain those night time feedings can impose. It dawned on the staff that it would be far easier to bring a seal home for those nighttime feeds than for staff to continue the go home, come in, go home, sleep a bit, come in early, etc. routine that was draining the staff and was unsustainable for the good health of the pups. So I brought a pup home that night of May 22, having volunteered to do the nighttime feeds with the intention of bringing it back to the Aquarium the next day. I need to say that this would be impossible today because stranded pups are now cared for by professional teams who are not usually part of aquarium regular staff. It is also against the law. The Marine Mammal Protection Act was in place, but it was loosely in place and since the Aquarium was the responding agency, it did what it thought best. Today it would take an Act of Congress to get permission to privately care for a marine mammal.
I know the date was May 22, because it was our son's birthday. He was 10 years old and when I got home, a neighborhood party was in place. Now some parents rent a trampoline for a party, some will hire a clown, but I topped them all when I appeared with a baby seal. I had a kiddie pool that I set up in the back hall. I can still see the crowd of young faces straining through the doorway to see the "cute baby". That was, of course, until the first poop! The entire birthday party ran screaming out of the house.
That night I shared the feeding duties with my wife, Candi, who simply fell in love. From that time on, it was Candi's seal.
The next day she agreed to care for the early morning feeding, and keep the seal during the day. The overnight stay turned into five weeks. She mixed the formula, making 5 baby bottles worth, 5 times each day. A team of other volunteers did the same over the next five weeks, caring for the pups with stories much like Candi's.
Cecil lived with the Sieswerda's until she was ready to be weaned onto whole food. She went back to live at the Aquarium for the rest of her life. We could visit her often and Candi was always sure Cecil remembered her from the time they spent together.
At the Aquarium Cecil led a full life mating with a very famous seal. Hoover, the talking seal! Hoover's story is exceptional and is told here: Hoover the Talking Seal
Cecil's mating with Hoover produced a lineage of "talkers" see Family Tree. She died at the Aquarium after a long life that gave enjoyment to millions of visitors and an exceptional experience to a young family that raised her in their bathtub.
It was 1976 and the New England Aquarium was inundated with baby seals. An exceptionally harsh winter had separated these seals from their mothers and the Aquarium's Stranding Team had collected abandoned pups from up and down the New England coastline. The Stranding Team at that time was anyone who worked in the Animal Department and could respond (usually the calls came in at 4:45 p.m. on a Friday). The pups demanded a great amount of care by the staff. We had concocted a suitable formula to substitute for the mother seal's rich milk, consisting primarily of heavy cream and cottage cheese. It took a tremendous effort to mix the formula and feed the pups (5x per day). Some pups would not take to bottle feeding and had to be tube fed. While this was more dangerous (a tube might infiltrate the windpipe and contaminate the lungs), this was actually the easy way. A production line of pups could be tube fed in a fraction of the time it took to induce a pup to nurse from an artificial nipple. We had seven pups that were being cared for while the staff tried to keep up with their regular duties.