A pair of baby seals spent less than three weeks in their mother's care before she abandoned them on a popular beach in the United Kingdom in November.
Now, DNA tests have confirmed that the pups are indeed twins, making them the first recorded set of grey seal twins born in the wild, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which is currently caring for the animals.
"Star Wars" is the center's theme for naming rescued animals this year –so the twins were dubbed R2D2 and C-3PO.
“Observers always believed they were twins but it is only since they needed to come in the center that we were able to check their DNA to see if they really were," Alison Charles, the manager of RSPCA East Winch, said in a statement.
The Institute of Marine Research in Norway conducted the DNA testing and also confirmed they are the first recorded set of wild-born grey seal twins, BBC reported. Grey seal twins have been recorded before, but they were born in captivity, according to RSPCA.
"It must happen in the wild from time to time, but we have never had knowledge of wild grey seal twins," the institute's Anne Kirstine Frie told BBC.
Grey seals are known to sometimes nurse pups that aren't their own, but before being abandoned, the two pups were seen being fed far away from any other seals, the group's chairman Peter Ansell, told the Telegraph. That's what made them suspect the pair were actually twins.
When the seal pups first came into RSPCA East Winch in Norfolk, the fluffy white babies weighed about 50 pounds each, meaning their mother "had done a very good job of feeding them up to that point," Charles said.
The pups' abandonment may have occurred after humans disturbed their mother, Charles said. They were found on Horsey Gap, a popular breeding ground for seals that draws tens of thousands of human visitors every year.
“Grey seal cows (females) are very susceptible to disturbance when they are with their pups on the beach," Charles said. "If this happens they are likely to move away from the pup into the sea and may not return to feed their pup."
Ansell suspects that the mother may have run out of milk. "She disappeared after ten days, which is about half the time that she would have stayed if she had been feeding just one pup," he told the Telegraph.
Once the twins put on some more weight, the RSPCA will release them back into the wild.
"The seals were born at the top of the dunes and most likely have never seen the sea, let alone got into it," Ansell told the Telegraph. "So they will have to be gently coaxed into the water on a day with good weather and sea conditions"