A new relationship with animals, nature and each other.

Panchita at the Poolside

This is Panchita, a Galapagos sea lion, relaxing next to Eric Nies, an American human (and former star of Real World New York), at a hotel in the Galapagos.

“She got caught up in a net some time ago … with deep cuts all over her body she made it to the hotel where I stayed,” Nies said. “Some people at the hotel nursed her back to health for three months. Every day she returns to rest after being out to sea. She is now pregnant and expecting within a month. Her name is Panchita … she even swims in the pool with you if you like.”

Seal advocacy group The Seals of Nam posted the photo on its Facebook page. “Our organization is based in South Africa and mainly focuses on Cape Fur seals and ending the Namibian seal hunt,” says Pat Dickens, the organization’s founder. “The response has been absolutely phenomenal. It has taken me by complete surprise.” The organization is looking to launch a census of the Cape Fur seals and encourage ecotourism in the area.