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Most wild animals keep humans at a safe distance. But in a few rare cases an animal has made an astonishing connection with a human companion. This story of loyalty, love and devotion bridges the gap between a harbour seal and a man and allows us to glimpse the secret inner life of a wild animal that lives in our midst.
Man and mammal worked together, played together, learned together, and, over a 24-year friendship, cemented a bond that hundreds of miles of ocean couldn’t break.
“Andre – the Seal who came home” is the true story of a harbour seal who found lifelong friendship with a cranky old guy from Maine.
Harry Goodridge, a colourful, sometimes prickly guy from Maine, got in a boat one morning and went out to Robinson Rock to watch the harbour seals that bask and whelp their pups on the rocks there. Once there, he spotted an abandoned 2 day old seal pup swimming alone. The second their eyes met, it was love at first sight. So Harry got out his fishing net and scooped the baby seal into his boat. The eccentric arborist and father of five went diving in his free time and had always wanted to train a seal to become a diving companion.
“I think he really wanted a kind of aquatic dog,” recalls Carol Goodridge, one of Harry’s daughters".
The documentary tells the story of Andre’s life through a mix of original interviews with the Goodridge sisters, stunning archival footage from the 1960’s, 1970s and 1980s of Andre with the family, and impressionistic, poetic reconstructions of key moments in the life of Andre. We also spend time at the New England Aquarium, learning about the habits of harbor seals, and talking to one of Andre’s old trainers.
The documentary explores the mysterious bond between Harry and Andre, a bond that survived distance and time. When Andre the seal became a nuisance to local fisherman, Harry carted him off to the New England Aquarium for the winter season. Come spring, aquarium staff released Andre into the waters near Boston. That spring, and every spring after for two decades, Andre made a 200 mile trip home to Rockport to be reunited with Harry, braving killer whales, great white sharks, boats, cruise ships… all to be back home with Harry, the man who many say was Andre’s real mother. “A lot of people say he came back for a free meal, but it was more than that,” says Toni. “It was a miracle.”
This programme is part of a 4 part-series called "My Wild Affair", which tells extraordinary stories of the bonds between humans and their animal companions, including an orphaned baby elephant, an orangutan raised as a human child, and a rhino who joined a family.
- Episode Title : The Seal That Came Home
- Format : 1 x 60'
- Production company : Blink Films and Newroad Media
- Year of production : 2013
- Commissioning channels : PBS, Animal Planet Canada, Discovery, SBS Australia