If you’re looking for places to visit in Cornwall where you can see animals, head to the Gweek Seal Sanctuary. This is a great place to see one of Britain’s favourite mammals, and it’s an ethical centre that rescues and releases seals – so you aren’t supporting immoral animal tourism. In this post, I’ll tell you exactly how to visit the Gweek Seal Sanctuary!
About the Gweek Seal Sanctuary
It all started with one seal. Ken Jones, who was the Cornish seal sanctuary’s founder, discovered a baby seal washed up on the shores of a beach near his home. He decided to nurse it himself – and so began a life of rescuing seals!
Jones started looking after seals now and then in a small rescue centre in St Agnes. However, word spread and more people started calling him and asking him if he could treat a seal that they had found. Not wanting to say no, he sought out a bigger space to house all of these poorly seals.
Eventually, he was offered the land at Gweek and moved the sanctuary there. Costs increased – but registering it as a charity meant that he could take donations. The sanctuary grew and nowadays is a large area housing dozens of animals – including seals, sea lions, penguins and most recently, beavers.
The staff aim to treat and release all of the animals that come into their care. However, some animals are so injured that they won’t survive in the wild. For example, if a seal has gone blind, there is no way that it will be able to source its own food. For these animals, the Gweek Seal Sanctuary offers a permanent home and works to ensure that they live a happy life.
Of course, such an enterprise as this needs funding. This is why the Gweek Seal Sanctuary is open to visitors. It is not a zoo – the seals come first – but the entrance fees go into ensuring that the charity can continue operating and rescuing as many seals as possible.
Visiting the Gweek Seal Sanctuary
There are loads of different areas to the seal sanctuary, and you can walk around them all independently.
Some areas of note include:
- The hospital, which is where seal pups are first treated when they come into the sanctuary. Some seals only visit the hospital and are then released after treatment.
- The pools – there are seal, sea lion, and penguin pools.
- The tunnel – from here, you can see the seals swimming underwater.
- There is also a lovely nature trail through the area.
- In the gift shop, you can purchase all sorts of seal-related gifts!
The Gweek Seal Sanctuary is a dog-friendly attraction, and it has actually been nominated as the best pet-friendly attraction in Cornwall.
Where is the Cornish Seal Sanctuary?
Unsurprisingly, the Gweek Seal Sanctuary is located in Gweek. This is a small village without many other attractions, but it’s easy to drive here from other popular tourist towns in Cornwall.
It is just over half an hour’s drive from Truro, Penzance and St Ives, and under an hour from Newquay. The only bus that serves Gweek is the 35A that goes from Helston to Falmouth – so unless you are in one of these destinations, it’s much easier to drive! The Gweek Seal Sanctuary is a good stop on a Cornwall road trip itinerary.
Opening Hours and Cost
The Cornish Seal Sanctuary is open every day from 10am – 5pm. Tickets cost £15.50 for adults, £12.50 for children, £14.50 for seniors and students and £48 for a family. You do need to prebook your tickets – you can do so here.
The Gweek Seal Sanctuary is a wonderful place for everyone, young and old, to visit. Children will love seeing the seals and learning about them, but it’s a fun place for adult animal lovers too! The story of the seal sanctuary is inspiring and the amount of seals that they have helped is humbling. Definitely add this attraction to your Cornwall bucket list!