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.
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"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)

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