12 March 2008 by Karen
Here’s what I think is a really rather sad post from John Millard, Director of World Museum.
Sometimes at World Museum we get asked about the seal that lived in the museum before World War II. At first we thought that maybe memories had been playing tricks, but as more people spoke of remembering a seal at the museum, we began to wonder if it wasn’t true.
A press cutting book in the Central Library has revealed the facts. A seal named Paddy was kept in the aquarium at the museum from 1919 until 1936, and he was probably an Atlantic Grey Seal.
A cutting from the Liverpool Post and Mercury for 20 September 1933 said…
‘Paddy, Liverpool’s pet seal, lives in the Museum. He is sleek, intelligent silver-grey creature, spending his time gazing at visitors and swimming round his tank – preferably on his back.
‘He was caught with seven other seals in the North Sea seventeen years ago, but his companions did not survive. When he was presented to the city in 1919 by the New Brighton Tower Company, Mr. Evans, who was to be his keeper, inquired what his name might be. “Well!” said his late master, “my name is Paddy so you had better name him after me.”
‘Paddy lives almost entirely on herrings. When herrings are difficult to obtain whitings are substituted, but he does not like them nearly so much. At 3.30 every afternoon people gather to see him make very short work of 4lbs of herrings…
His coat, which he changes every August, is brown for the first week or so then changes to silver-grey. Although he does not have his coat pressed, he has it sponged down every morning while his tank is being emptied. The toilet over he has an underwater beauty sleep of about fifteen minutes. Some authorities contend that seals do not sleep under water – they should see Paddy. The extraordinary thing is that he can glide around his tank when it is empty, with a perfect swimming motion.
‘Although Paddy is the very soul of good nature he is not without a little jealousy. Should Mr. Evans look into another tank too long Paddy makes a great fuss and lashes his water into a foam. Thousands of children would not consider their holidays complete without paying Paddy at least one visit.’
The Liverpool Post reported the death of Paddy the seal on 17 August 1936 saying…
‘Many thousands of Liverpool people, old as well as young, will be sorry to hear of the death, which took place on Saturday morning, of Paddy the seal at the Liverpool Museum Aquarium.’
Some people have said the seal was called Sammy and back in 1928 a press cutting mentioned Edgar the seal at the museum, but the story of Paddy and his keeper Mr Evans seems to be the most authentic.
Today it would seem cruel to keep a seal in a tank in the museum, but for seventeen years Paddy the seal was a star attraction at the museum.
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