Award Winning College Zoo Hand Rears its First Rescued Red Squirrel
Blue Cross, a nationwide organisation that has been dedicated
to caring for injured animals since 1906 recognised the college zoo
with the Best Mammal Welfare award for their Primates and the Best
Bird Welfare award for their Wetland Aviary.
These awards coincide with the arrival of the red squirrel
kitten that was found on the ground by a local dog-walker in a
Bedlington park who contacted Red Squirrel Northern England (RSNE),
who in turn brought the kit to the zoo.
Staff and students from the Animal Management centre at the
zoo have been working with RSNE to save the endangered species for
a number of years after a monitoring programme was established when
special cameras discovered the rare reds in nearby woodland.
Steven Sykes, of Kirkley Hall Zoological Gardens, said: "We
have named our new arrival Kitty and our aim is to release her back
into the wild here at Kirkley.
"She would normally still be with her siblings so we hope we
can soft release her, a process whereby we supplement feed and
provide shelter whilst Kitty establishes herself in the woodland
around the centre. If this release goes well we will take on other
reds that need rearing in the future."
The zoo will soon launch an education trail all about the red
squirrels that it is hoped will encourage the public to report any
sightings via the RSNE website at www.rsne.org.uk. This trail, that
also includes a new wildlife hide, has been built with the support
of the Friends of Kirkley Hall along with extensive fund-raising by
staff and students at the zoo.
Photo Caption: Kitty the red squirrel being hand-fed