03/10/2014

Red Squirrels Released Into Wild

Four red squirrels born at Belfast Zoo have been released into the wild at Glenarm estate in County Antrim.

Zoo curator and chairperson of the Belfast Zoo native species group, Alyn Cairns, explained: "Here at the zoo, we care for and conserve a variety of endangered species from across the world. However, we are equally delighted to be playing an active role in the conservation of our own wildlife.

"There has been extensive preparation by the zoo’s native species group, the zoo vet, Glenarm Estate, Glenarm gamekeepers, members of the Glens Red Squirrel Group, NIEA and the NISF. The release of four red squirrels, born at the zoo, is the culmination of ten years of planning and commitment to the cause and we are delighted to announce that the release of the squirrels went smoothly and successfully."

Since the release of the four red squirrels, volunteers from the Glens Red Squirrel Group have continued to monitor the animals.

Glens Red Squirrel Group chair, Daniel McAfee said: "The release was a very rewarding experience for all our very dedicated group members who took on feeding and monitoring of the squirrels while they were settling in to the new surroundings. We are glad to see such a successful breeding programme at Belfast Zoo and the time, effort and research the zoo team has and continues to put into the squirrels.

"This is a great example of how zoos can help local wildlife as well as exotic and endangered animals. We have been grateful to be part of the first captive release of red squirrels in Northern Ireland and the first native species release for the zoo."

(IT/CD)

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