A seal pup found by a family in their back garden 18 miles inland has been nicknamed Rudolph.
The animal was spotted by Harriet Dwyer, 24, sitting in the snow at the house in Benenden, Kent, England, on Monday.
Her father, Professor Tim Dwyer, said: “It was bizarre, really. My daughter was out with our dog Jack in the snow when she came in and said ’There’s a seal in the garden’. I said ’No, it must be an otter’. We all went out and under the hedge was a seal looking quite chirpy and slithering around in the snow.”
It is thought the pup, which is just under a year old, emerged from the tiny stream at the bottom of the garden after swimming up the River Rother which leads out to the English Channel.
Prof Dwyer, who works at London South Bank University, said: “I went back indoors and rang the RSPCA and police. The seal made its way across the garden into the pond, where it sat happily staring out of the pond in an enchanting way with its eyes just above the water.”
The family tried to contain the seal with the aid of collie Jack before assistance arrived.
Prof Dwyer, 51, said: “He was very good and, as collies do, he has a rounding instinct. The dog was quite happy to keep it in one place.
“My daughter, not very inventively, called it Rudolph, which seemed appropriate as it was sitting around in the snow.”
The pup was eventually coaxed into an animal crate and taken to the RSPCA’s Mallydams Wood Wildlife Centre in Fairlight, Hastings, East Sussex, where it has been renamed Gulliver after its fondness for travelling.