The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) in the UK has shared some of the most “weird and wonderful” incidents the charity’s officers were called to across the year.
Among the first to be rescued in 2022 was Nacho, a six-month-old seal pup who appeared next to a riverbank by the Old Lock & Weir Inn in Keynsham, Bristol, on January 2.
“The River Avon runs from the coast all the way along through Keynsham where the pub is situated at the water’s edge, so it’s likely he found his way there swimming upstream from the coast,” said RSPCA wildlife supervisor Paul Oaten.
Just two days later, on January 4, a fellow seal pup was found on a cliff in Weybourne, Norfolk, 50ft from the beach, next to a brick wartime pillbox.
“I was quite surprised to find this seal so far up – he must have just taken a wrong turn and then followed the coastal path before ending up on the cliff edge,” said the RSPCA’s Amy Pellegrini, who took the pup down to a safe spot on the nearby beach.
A recurring theme in RSPCA rescues in 2022 was foxes getting their head stuck in things, including a vixen that became trapped in a watering can in Colchester, Essex, in February.
In the same month, a fox found with a large tin can of dog food in Barking, London, proved to be a warning on “how dangerous litter can be”, according to RSPCA inspector Dale Grant.
More than one fox caught themselves in the central hole of an old wheel, including a cub that had found its way into a shed in Orpington, south-east London.
“The residents had also discovered his sister in the shed, anxiously watching her brother,” explained rescuer Rodney Kenny of the incident in April.
Mr. Kenny said there was “no time to spare” as it was likely the fox had been stuck for several days without food or water, but it was quickly extracted with soapy water and both cubs were taken into care.
Another April rescue saw a seagull zip-wired to freedom after it was left hanging from a telephone line in Sunderland, Tyne and Wear after a fishing lure in its foot had become snagged.
“It was one of the most bizarre rescues I’ve seen,” said RSPCA inspector Kirsty Keogh-Laws, who watched as firefighters used a throw line to pull the bird to safety.
Customers eating at a McDonald’s in Bognor Regis, West Sussex, found a 5ft-long boa constrictor slithering through the fast food restaurant in July. The non-venomous but exotic snake was passed on to
staff, who placed it in a box before it was collected by the RSPCA’s Hannah
In August, RSPCA rescuers used barbecue tongs to pull a hedgehog free from an open drain in Hull, East Yorkshire.
“It was great teamwork… it involved a little bit of gentle persuasion and the use of some BBQ tongs to carefully ease him out of the drain,” said the RSPCA’s Gary Cotton, who checked the hedgehog over with fellow rescuer Laura Barber before releasing him back into the wild.
The fire service had to be called after another hedgehog tumbled 25ft into a historic ice house on the Dawnay Estates near Scarborough, North Yorkshire in September.
“The deep well was dug and used to store ice during the summer in the 1800s and, while no longer used, has been preserved for visitors,” said inspector Thomas Hutton.
“This little visitor, however, couldn’t get back out after falling into the ice house so we had to clamber down to rescue him. Thankfully he wasn’t injured.”
The RSPCA was called in September after a Hispaniolan common tree frog made a 4,300-mile journey from the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean to the UK aboard a bunch of bananas.
“We were unpacking the shopping in the kitchen and my wife turned to me and said ‘look there’s a frog in the bananas’ and I said ‘sorry, there’s a what in the bananas?’,” said Iain Holloway from Tamworth, Staffordshire.
Rescuer Jonny Wood said the frog was in good condition despite its long journey when he collected it.
A small finch proved to be one of the more protracted rescues of the year, after it flew in through the open window of a Next store in Newcastle on November 13.
“She just couldn’t fly back out and was flitting around the displays over three floors,” said rescuer Rachael Hurst.
“No doubt the bright decorations in the Christmas displays attracted her and at one stage she’d landed on top of a tree and seemed very happy to stay there too.
“Finally we caught her (on November 15) behind some men’s coats on the top floor, but we had to move pretty swiftly.”
RSPCA inspectorate commissioner Dermot Murphy said: “With our teams out rescuing animals from danger and suffering 365 days a year, we are often their only hope.
“It’s an honour to be able to lend a hand to animals in desperate need and we hope people enjoy seeing some of the weird and wonderful places animals have found themselves in need of our help.”