A tribute to Ray

Friday, 22 March 2024

It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of our dearest Ray.

It is never easy to lose one of our family but with Ray it is especially difficult. He was such a big character and meant so much to all of us here at the Sanctuary, but also to our guests who adored him equally.

Ray was rescued by the Sanctuary back in 2001 at just a few weeks old.  He was a character from the moment he entered our hospital. Looking back through his hospital records there are comments like ‘there’s something different about Ray’, and there certainly was! He had behaviour that indicated possible brain damage, had not an aggressive bone in his body, visual impairment and an under active thyroid which would require life-long medication to keep him healthy. From this moment he became part of the Sanctuary family. 

Over the years Ray’s character really blossomed and he had a knack of endearing himself to all. He was a laid-back boy who loved to sunbath and lounge upside down around the pool, often with one flipper in the water gently flicking water on himself to keep himself cool.  He was playful and loved to play with running water from the hose, or chase fish poles around the pool during the team’s enrichment sessions with him; not forgetting how he loved to hold hula hoops and toys under his flipper and carry them around like a handbag! He also loved his pool partners, especially his favourite female Sheba.  They could often be seen lying together on the haulout, and never far apart during breeding season.  Sheba clearly adored him, although sometimes a little frustrated that he seemed to have absolutely no idea what he should be doing at this time of year! Ray also had a big impact on Banana who seemed to idolise him when they lived together; she would use him like a raft to float around the pool and it seems she might have even picked up some of her stranger habits from him! 

Although Ray did appear to have some degree of brain damage and visual impairment it didn’t stop him from learning.  With a few little adaptations to his husbandry training, he was able to learn as much as the other seals, he just sometimes needed a few extra reminders of what he had learnt the previous day!  But Ray always tried his very best for the team and put all his trust in us, it was a such a special feeling. Watching Ray burst out of the pool on to the haulout (sometimes misjudging and bumping off the edge back into the pool) was the highlight of every session!

We often referred to Ray as a little ‘goofy’ because he always appeared to have a little smile on his face.  But it was his pure, happy, trusting heart that shone through to all. Ray was our calm when things got crazy, he was our source of laughter when you needed a smile, he was totally and utterly our Ray of sunshine.

In the last month Ray required several procedures for a historical condition. Although Ray was making slow improvements, unfortunately, he did not recover as well as we had hoped and despite a huge effort from the team and our veterinary support sadly it wasn’t enough.

Ray you were one of a kind. To say you will be hugely missed doesn’t seem enough. The Sanctuary will undoubtedly be a little less without you. Rest easy x