Gimpy the elephant seal is an unexpected but memorable heroine. Learn more about her bold rescue of the man who helped to rescue her.
Gimpy the elephant seal had a touch and go beginning
A blogger identified only as Hugh told this tale of how a seal named Gimpy saved him from certain harm. He worked as a volunteer at an animal care center that took in sick and injured seals and sea lions in order to treat and then return them to the wild. One day, a sick and injured Elephant Seal pup was brought to the facility, suffering from a head trauma that left her paralyzed on one side and almost completely blind. No one expected her to survive more than a week. (See: The Blind Dog Who Taught Children to See.)
Gimpy surprised them all and regained use of her paralyzed side
Although she sustained significant injuries, this seal pup became a media darling in the eyes of many, and ultimately, the seal version of the iconic Forrest Gump character. She did regain use of her paralyzed side, but she could never fully recover all of her motor functions. She was slower than other seals, less coordinated and even had to re-master the art of swallowing fish. Loving volunteers had to feed her by hand by holding her neck straight while gently guiding a sardine down her throat. But Gimpy had a fighting spirit that made up for all that she lacked. (See: Hero Cat Saves Neighbor.)
Hugh becomes very attached to Gimpy and vice versa
Although Hugh was only one member of a team of dedicated workers who attended to Gimpy daily, he spent so much time with her that she became accustomed to a having him around. It soon became just Hugh who cleaned out her pen and fed her on a daily basis. Gimpy appeared to enjoy hanging out with Hugh and never showed any signs of aggression. See: The Cat Who Dialed 911.)
Volunteers at the center were all well aware of the cardinal rule to not get to close to the animals because bonding with them could hamper their transition back into the wild. But because Gimpy would not be making such a change due to the severity of her injuries, the rehab facility encouraged human comfort and companionship. (See; Russian Cat Saves Abandoned Baby.)
Gimpy becomes a media darling and a gentle giant
Many people came to visit Gimpy every week and she loved the attention. Housed in a pen with six other elephant seal pups who all except her seemed intent on testing out their new canine teeth by biting each other and anything else that crossed their paths, whether seal or human. She was the same age as the other yearlings, but she outweighed them all by more than 150 pounds. Hugh soon noticed that Gimpy was a gentle giant, and when she was confronted with a feisty pup, she merely opened her mouth and bobbed her head is seal-threatening lingo. Such gestures always caused the smaller pup to back away. (See: Sassy The Chihuahua).
Gentle Gimpy saves Hugh from certain injury
One day, the center was short-staffed and Hugh was asked to add some more duties to his shift, which included cleaning up after the last morning feed and removing uneaten fish from the pen and the pool where the seal pups played. Hugh used a crowding board for protection as he made his way through the crowd of yelping seals to do the necessary cleaning. Distracted by an aggressive seal, he slipped on a half-eaten sardine and fell forward onto the deck. He reached for his board, but one of the group of three encroaching seals with teeth barred was moving on top of it. (See; Lulu The Pot-Bellied Pig Saves Owner.)
Hugh believed that he would be badly bitten and could do nothing to defend himself. But then, from out of the corner of one grateful eye, he saw a large mass of rolling seal blubber moving up beside him. It was Gimpy. She may have just been curious as to what the commotion was all about, but at that moment, she was a sanctuary for poor Hugh, who crawled on his hands and knees to get even closer to Gimpy as he put himself between her and the approaching seal pups. Gimpy was silent until the pups got closer and then she opened her mouth and the other seals suddenly backed off and Hugh was saved from a mauling. (See: The Soldier Who Saved The Cat and Vice Versa.)
Although Hugh soon had to say goodbye to gentle Gimpy because she had found a permanent new home across the ocean in Portugal, he knew he would never forget her and the day she became a heroine.
Good luck, Gimpy, wherever you are, and High too!
See also: Bretagne