07/06/2018

Two Red Squirrels Released At Silent Valley Mountain Park

Two female red squirrels have been released at Silent Valley Mountain Park, Belfast Zoo has confirmed.

The site was selected as part of a nation-wide scheme to enhance the population of the threatened species.

Zoo manager, Alyn Cairns, said: "Belfast Zoo first became home to red squirrels in 2012 when three animals arrived from the Glens of Antrim. The original aim of our red squirrel nook was predominantly education and interaction.

"However, the hope was that the squirrels would be content in the nook to breed and, with this in mind, release arrangements were developed by Belfast Zoo, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and the Northern Ireland Squirrel Forum (NISF). Since the arrival of our original trio, we have welcomed numerous kittens and have celebrated several successful re-introductions to protected areas in Northern Ireland.
News Image
"It is easy to look at the plight of the world's wildlife and to feel like these problems are a world away from our own daily lives. However, the reality is that Northern Ireland's very own species are facing increasing threats and the red squirrel is the perfect example of this. Here at Belfast Zoo we are committed to playing a leading role in wildlife conservation including wildlife on our own doorstep. The success of the latest release is the culmination of planning and dedication from all parties.

"It is extremely encouraging that, since the inception of the zoo's squirrel nook, Belfast Zoo born squirrels have not only supported existing populations in Northern Ireland but have also been imperative in developing new habitats and populations. While this is the first release at Silent Valley we are optimistic that this will be the first of many."

(CD/LM)

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

03 October 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.
11 January 2008
New Visitor Centre For Belfast Zoo
Construction has begun on a new, £600,000 state of the art visitor centre at Belfast Zoo. The new entrance pavilion will include a new souvenir shop, pay-booths and payment systems, a covered walkway for wet weather shelter and a tourist exhibition space focussing on native and non-native wildlife.
28 July 2017
Belfast Zoo 'Celebrating Conservation Success'
Belfast Zoo is "celebrating another conservation success" with the birth of five red squirrel kittens. The red squirrel, believed to have been native across Ireland for more than 10,000 years, is now said to be in "serious trouble" in Northern Ireland.
19 May 2017
Baby Giraffe Makes Debut At Belfast Zoo
A baby giraffe named Gilbert has been delighting visitors at Belfast Zoo. Gilbert, an endangered Rothschild giraffe, was born to mother, Daisy and father, Finn, on Sunday 07 May. The zoo introduced him as part of endangered species day on 19 May.
15 February 2006
Belfast Zoo to receive award
Belfast Zoo, in partnership with Queen's University's Scholl of Psychology, has today received a prestigious ward from the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ for ‘Best Research Project’. This is the highest award given by the BIAZA, and was given for the innovative research on ‘Auditory Enrichment for Zoo-housed Gorillas’.
27 August 2001
Belfast Zoo reopens farm area
Belfast Zoo has reopened the rare breeds farm area for the bank holiday weekend after a prolonged period of closure. The zoo farm area, particularly popular with younger visitors, has been closed as part of the precautions taken at the zoo since the foot-and-mouth outbreak in February.
16 October 2018
Other News In Brief
Northern Ireland Unemployment Rate Rises The rate of unemployment in Northern Ireland has risen to 4.3%, taking it above the UK average for the first time in more than a year. According to the new figures, the UK rate is 4%, the joint lowest on record. Despite the rise in Northern Ireland's rate, it remains lower than the European Union (6.
16 October 2018
NI's Education System Is 'Close To A Tipping Point'
Northern Ireland's education system is "close to a tipping point", the comptroller and auditor general has warned. Kieran Donnelly made the comments following the publication of a report on the financial health of schools by the Northern Ireland Audit Office (NIAO).
16 October 2018
DUP Issue Threat Over Brexit Backstop Deal
The DUP's deputy leader has threatened to paralyse the government's domestic agenda if Northern Ireland's place in the union is jeopardised by a Brexit deal. Warning Prime Minister Theresa May, Nigel Dodds said his party would stop short of triggering a general election, as he spoke ahead of a cabinet meeting in London.
16 October 2018
Increase In Sexually Transmitted Infections In NI
The number of people with sexually transmitted infections (STIs) has risen in Northern Ireland, according to new figures. A report from the Public Health Agency (PHA) revealed an increase in cases of gonorrhoea, herpes and chlamydia, while numbers diagnosed with syphilis and genital warts were down.
23 March 2018
Prince Harry And Meghan Markle Visit Northern Ireland
Prince Harry and his fiancee Meghan Markle are on their first official visit together in Northern Ireland. The couple visited the Crown Liquor Saloon Bar and staff from the National Trust told them about some of the history of the bar.
13 April 2017
Belfast Zoo Opens Reptile And Amphibian House
Belfast Zoo has opened its newly renovated and extended reptile and amphibian house. The zoo's reptile and amphibian house has welcomed more than 15 new species, including critically endangered frogs such as golden mantella, mossy frogs and lemur leaf frog.
03 November 2016
Public Urged To Boycott Belfast Zoo
The public has been urged to avoid Belfast Zoo after it was criticised over the conditions in which it keeps its animals. Appearing on the BBC's Nolan Show on Wednesday, 02 November, UUP Councillor Chris McGimpsey said that people should boycott the zoo after it received criticism from the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA).
13 October 2016
Critically Endangered Western Gorilla Born At Belfast Zoo
A critically endangered Western lowland gorilla has been born at Belfast Zoo. The latest arrival was born to mother, Namoki, and father, Gugas, on 28 August 2016. Newborn gorillas cling to their mother's stomach for the first few months and zookeepers have only recently been able to discover that the infant is a girl who they have named Olivia.
11 July 2016
Belfast Zoo Welcomes First Andean Born Cub In Over 20 Years
Belfast Zoo has welcomed the first Andean born cub in 22 years. The cub's dad, Spook, was born at Belfast Zoo on 30 July 1994 and was joined by female, Alice, in 2010 as part of the European breeding programme. Zoo Curator, Julie Mansell, said the zoo is "over the moon" at the arrival.