Dogs have given seals a morale boost after staff at a sanctuary noticed they were missing visitors during the coronavirus lockdown, writes Claire Hayhurst.

The Cornish Seal Sanctuary usually welcomes more than 100,000 guests each year to meet rescued seal pups and resident animals.

For the first time in 60 years, it had to close its doors during the lockdown and the animals have noticed the absence of visitors.

Staff, who have been providing extra enrichment for the animals, decided to bring their dogs in to say hello and remind them of what it is like when the sanctuary is open.

Aayla, one of the grey seals, loves people to watch her from the underwater viewing area and so one dog Hugo was brought there to see her.

Dudley, a golden retriever, met grey seal Willow through a fence.

A spokeswoman from the sanctuary said: “The animals were very intrigued to see dogs again on site and enjoyed interacting with them.

“The team have also been playing music over the speaker system to help to keep the residents calm and happy.”

The charity, which has no certain opening date, is struggling without the revenue from visitors.

It costs £23,000 per month to look after the animals at the sanctuary.

Jana Sirova, general manager of the sanctuary said: “During this closure, we have been working very hard to ensure once the time is right we can safely welcome our guests once more.

“We have put capacity restrictions in place, have implemented social distancing guidance around site, enhanced our cleaning regime, added hand sanitiser stations and installed protective equipment to keep our staff and guests safe.”