It was a day which would have made a late seal father proud when staff at Natureland took delight in releasing two seals including none other than Wiggins, who was born at the sanctuary in North Parade, Skegness.
The cute harbour seal was born in August last year and his father, Sammy, had been a star attraction up until his passing in 2011.
Many were saddened over Sammy’s death at the ripe age of 30 but Wiggins, who surely took some of charming character on, will now enjoy life in the wild following his release last Thursday.
Another, previously rescued, harbour seal pup, Greg, was also released with (Brad) Wiggins, who was said to need a little more persuading to leave than his counterpart.
“We released Brad Wiggins and Greg on Thursday. Brad went straight out to sea but Greg took a little more persuading,” said Duncan Yeadon for the sanctuary.
“But they both swam off eventually to join their colony in the Wash between Lincolnshire and Norfolk,” he added.
As many will remember, Wiggins was born early on August 22, and he was given the gold-medal winning cyclist’s name, Bradley.
In honour of his famous father, however, he was also given the ‘middle’ name of Sammy.
Speaking back in October, Duncan said: “We were slightly concerned at first because we were not sure if Wiggins was getting enough milk from his mother Victoria but sure enough it started to come.
“After a few weeks, Victoria then stopped producing milk and Wiggins was slightly underweight, so we took him and put him in the hospital pool where we introduced him to fish,” he added.
From there, staff were able to teach Wiggins to hand feed and later, he was taught to catch fish in the water.
Staff were confident with the pup’s progress so they moved him to the rearing pool with the other babies later that week.
The Sanctuary had hoped he might be ready for release as early as Christmas.
But they didn’t have to wait too long beyond the end o fthe festive season.
Just a couple of weeks into the New Year, Wiggins is already enjoying life in the wild, and has taken with him the fighting spirit of his father Sammy who sired many pups during his residency at the sanctuary.
Elsewhere, other Olympic inspired seals rescued and released in recent months include, Usain Bolt who was resuced on June 20.
The tiny pup weighed just nine kilgrams when he was taken in but just four months later, in October, the stealthy seal was set free in the sea.
Usain’s seal pal, Tom Daley, was rescued from the same beach on July 19 and was thought to be only four or five days old, weighing just 10 kg at the time. But both were set free at the same time, just like Wiggins and Greg.
Other seals rescued last summer, also with Olympic inspired names, included Tom (Daley) who was saved on June 23, Jess (Ennis) rescued on August 3, Greg (Rutherford) who was rescued on September 19 and released last Thursday. plus Zara Philips who is still at Natureland recovering.