Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Laurel in seal of approval with web hits

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Media captionA seal at St Andrews Aquarium scales a metal barrier to take a dip with the seal pup in the neighbouring pool

A 14 stone (90kg) seal has become an internet hit following her successful attempt to overcome a barrier to welcome a new pup to her Fife aquarium.

Managers at St Andrews Aquarium were "amazed" by Laurel's strength and tenacity to overcome a 4ft (1.2m) fence to reach last week's new arrival Togo.

The video has gone viral on social networking sites Facebook and Twitter clocking up hundreds of "wall posts".

The CCTV footage has also had almost 6,000 views on YouTube.

Unable to wait

The story reached news sites as far away as Africa and the USA, putting the family-run aquarium at St Andrews firmly on the global map.

Officials had planned to introduce the pair in a few weeks time.

However Laurel, 20, was unable to wait and 15 minutes after the park closed on Friday 22 July she broke into the other cage.

When workers arrived on Saturday 23 July they discovered Laurel was not in her enclosure and found her playing with one-year-old Togo in his new pool.

Security camera footage from the aquarium shows the seal making several unsuccessful attempts to scale the barrier fencing, hampered by her sheer size and physical make-up.

However, despite physical challenges, Laurel is seen using her front flippers to hoist her large, heavy body onto the top of the barrier, before wobbling slightly and eventually toppling over the fence to the other side to meet Togo.

Togo, a one-year-old seal pup who was flown Denmark to his new home at St Andrews Aquarium, on Thursday, was in a separate pool to allow him time to adjust to his new surroundings.

Laurel was in a pool next to Togo's, separated by the high metal fencing.

John Mace, manager of St Andrews Aquarium, said: "We're amazed at the interest there has been in this story, not just locally but internationally.

"The YouTube hits are just going up and up so it's clear that people are spreading the word through social networking sites and quickly."

"We've had a lot of visitors in over the weekend to see Laurel and Togo playing together."

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