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Baby ‘Squirrel Nutkins’ born - Longleat Safari Park

Red squirrels (Longleat Safari Park)
Red squirrels (Longleat Safari Park)

A quartet of baby red squirrels has been born.

The babies, a boy and three girls are known as kits, and are the first to have been born at the Park.

They are part of a UK-wide breeding programme for the rare, native mammal which aims to reintroduce the species back into the wild.

The last red squirrel sighting in Wiltshire was in 1965 and they’re now virtually extinct in England, except for isolated populations on the Isle of Wight, Brownsea Island, Formby, the Lake District and parts of Northumberland.

“We’re very excited to announce the birth of our very first red squirrel kits here at Longleat,” said keeper Chris Burr. “The youngsters are part of a very special captive breeding programme with the aim that one day these amazing animals can be reintroduced and thrive in our native landscapes. Our role is to establish a healthy breeding population and, once fully grown, these kits will become part of future breeding programmes or perhaps even wild release themselves. Obviously our ultimate goal would be to have a population living on the Longleat estate and the aim is for us to have the native red squirrels back on site within the next 10 years,” he added.

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