Dame Judi Dench meets a rescued seal named after her at animal sanctuary

Dame Judi Dench is one of the most beloved and legendary living actors. From her acclaimed Shakespearean work to her Oscar-winning role in Shakespeare in Love to her longtime role as M in the James Bond films, she’s truly a national treasure.

She’s also a longtime advocate for animals and a supporter of a number of animal charities. And during one recent visit to an animal sanctuary, she was honored when a rescued seal was named after her.

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The Belfast actress paid a visit to Seal Life Trust’s Cornish Seal Sanctuary in Gweek, England with her family on September 22. They were honored to have the acting legend pay a visit and gave her a tour of the facility.

But then, a different visitor came through their door: a grey seal pup rescued from the Cornish coastline. According to a press release from the sanctuary, the seal was dehydrated and had several wounds, and was admitted to their hospital.

Cornish Seal Sanctuary

The pup was one of the 70 seal pups the charity rescues from Cornwall each winter. Thankfully, the pup pulled through — and when it came to decide on a name, the staff realized it was fate and named the seal after their celebrity guest.

“It was like fate – it just so happened that, as Dame Judi and her family explored the Sanctuary, this pup was admitted to our Seal Hospital,” fundraising manager Leanne Attwood said. “With our actors and actresses naming theme this season, we knew we just had to name her after Judi Dench, who was already on our list of name ideas.”

READ MORE: Family discovers an adorable seal pup napping on their front porch

Naming animals after celebrities is a frequent practice for shelters and sanctuaries: it’s cute and fun, and can also bring attention to animals in need. (Never forget the cat named Dennis Quaid who got adopted by the real celebrity.)

Dench was thrilled by the honor, and the seal even got to meet her legendary namesake.

“Judi was absolutely an absolute delight and so gracious about the naming,” Attwood said. “She was so excited to be able to meet pup Judi and explore behind-the-scenes of our Seal Hospital.”

Cornish Seal Sanctuary

“Our animal care team is now working hard to nurse the pup back to full health, with hopes of successfully releasing her back to the wild as soon as possible.”

The Cornish Seal Sanctuary says that on average it costs £2,000 (or over $2,400 USD) to rehabilitate a seal to full health, and if you are interested in supporting the charity you can donate to their Pup Wish List Appeal.

Dame Judi Dench loves animals and is a longtime supporter of a number of animal charities, including Animal Defenders International, Humane Society International and In Defense of Animals.

READ MORE: Dame Judi Dench saved her pet goldfish with mouth-to-mouth CPR

“Supporting animal advocacy and rescue is extremely important to me… I want to continue building a better world for animals, and a charitable bequest is the best way to make that happen,” she said in an In Defense of Animals press release. If you love animals, I encourage you to remember vulnerable animals in your will – leave a legacy of love.”

Dench has also been in a relationship with wildlife conservationist David Mills, founder of the British Wildlife Centre, for over a decade. They first met when Mills invited the actress to visit his squirrel sanctuary in 2010.

LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 13: (L-R) David Mills and Judi Dench attend the Laurence Olivier Awards at The Royal Opera House on April 13, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Ben Pruchnie/WireImage)

We love Judi Dench — both the actress and the seal! Thank you to this legendary dame for always supporting animals. We hope this rescued seal makes a recovery soon!

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