When Molly came to Mana Stratton in September, she was just 5.8kg and almost unresponsive.
“When she came to me I think I gave her about a 10 or at best 20 per cent survival rate," Stratton said.
At nearly two years old, it’s thought Molly was struggling after leaving her mum for the first time.
Department of Conservation’s Dirk de Vries says Stratton was Molly’s last chance.
“It kept popping up in people's backyards and there was three times when we tried to relocate it. And so at that stage there we gave Mana a call to see if she was willing to accept it.”
The swimming pool in Stratton's backyard has been Molly’s home for the last few months.
Initially, Stratton would wake up every morning unsure if Molly had made it through the night. But thanks to three meals a day Molly has turned a corner.
She is now 13.6kg and they’re hoping to release her back into the wild at 15kg. What’s more Molly is now acting more like a fur seal, she’s curious and a bit feisty when she wants to be.
Stratton is a full-time vet and has been taking care of Molly in her spare time, with help from mum Francis. Over the years Stratton estimates she’s looked after around 40 variety of animals, mainly native birds.
Dirk de Vries says the word she does in invaluable. “She's the first response that any wild animals and sea birds if they're in need of assistance then we'll give Mana a call and without Mana I think the outcome for a lot of the animals wouldn't be so good."
Of course feeding Molly, who eats more than 2kg of fish a day, hasn’t been easy. Sealord has so far donated more than 160kgs of fish.
Sealord CEO Doug Paulin says like anyone Molly has her favourites.
“She's very discerning so we've supplied two species of fish, maceral and New Zealand Hoki and by far she prefers New Zealand Hoki."
It’s hoped that Molly will keep packing on the pounds and hit that magic 15kg mark in the coming weeks. Stratton says while she will be missed, seeing Molly return to the wild will be her reward.