Police officers are looking to speak with a dog owner whose pet killed a beloved seal during a savage attack.
The young seal – named after Queen frontman and pop legend Freddie Mercury because of his crowd-pleasing antics – was mauled by a brown cross-bred dog on Sunday, March 21, near Hammersmith Bridge in west London.
Horrifying pictures show the dog latching onto Freddie, who cried out in pain.
His flipper was fractured and the joint was dislocated during the attack.
Onlookers tried to help Freddie before emergency services arrived, but he was tragically pronounced dead at South Essex Wildlife Hospital the following day.
The Metropolitan Police are now investigating the death and trying to identify witnesses.
The force confirmed in a statement: “Officers attended the location at approximately 12.39pm on Sunday, March 21, along with colleagues from the London Fire Brigade.
“They recovered the young pup from the river bank and it was taken to a rescue centre for treatment, but had to be put down later, due to injuries sustained in the incident.
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“Officers are looking to identify witnesses and to speak to the owner of the dog involved. Enquiries continue. The RSPCA has been informed.”
Photographer Duncan Phillips, 55, took several shots of the attack.
He told the MailOnline: "It was quite a vicious attack. The dog just wouldn't let go despite repeated attempts by members of the public to separate the two animals."
One vet who tried to help the seal was bitten three times by Freddie, at that point terrified.
Another male cyclist was “headbutted” by the seal.
British Divers Marine Life Rescue said in a statement: "We are all devastated at the loss of ‘Freddie’ today.
"So many people tried to help him but his injuries were too severe.
"Marine mammal experts were consulted but all ended with the same conclusion, he was put to sleep.”
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A raft of social media users left tributes on Twitter after Freddie’s death was announced.
Craig Oliver, David Cameron's former director of communications, said: “So sad to hear that the beautiful seal that took up residence near Hammersmith Bridge had to be put down after being savaged by a dog.
“There were signs up asking dog walkers to keep them on leads.”
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Julia Llewellyn Smith said: “Goodbye to Freddie Mercury, our beloved Hammersmith Bridge mascot.”
Barry French added: “RIP Freddie Mercury the Seal. I photographed her here at Teddington Lock the day before fish hook incident.
“The rare bit of joy in these troubled times taken away from us.”
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