Red Squirrel in Cheshire
23:19 16 November 2009
THIS furry little chap and his two siblings have been scampering around their home at Walton Hall and Gardens Children's Zoo in Higher Walton, near Warrington, after being born earlier this year as part of a breeding programme.
The young squirrels, known as kittens, live with five adults at the zoo and have been entertaining visitors with their antics. But they are now old enough to leave their home and will be either sent to another breeding programme or released at squirrel sanctuaries in either Anglesey or Formby.
The red squirrel population in Britain has dropped dramatically over the last few decades. The introduction of the grey squirrel is largely blamed for this as the North American rodents eat food before it is ripe enough for the reds and they also carry the paprox virus, which is deadly for our native squirrel.
Although red squirrels can be found in Scotland and the Lake District, the population is still under threat in the wild and they are now mostly found in specially protected nature reserves.
The Children's Zoo is part of a nationwide breeding programme co-ordinated by the Welsh Mountain Zoo and funded with help from Waste Recycling Environment Ltd (WREN), which provided 3,500 to create four breeding and play enclosures with interconnecting runs.