A baby red squirrel is the latest addition to a Northumberland zoo – but she won’t become a permanent resident.
Students from Northumberland College’s Kirkley Hall Zoological Gardens near Ponteland are preparing the kit for the wild after she was found on the ground by a dog walker in Bedlington.
The rescuer contacted Red Squirrels Northern England (RSNE), which has been working with the zoo’s animal management centre on a monitoring programme of the creatures, and it handed over the squirrel for care.
Steven Sykes, who works at the zoo, said: “We have named our new arrival Kitty and our aim is to release her back into the wild.
“She would normally still be with her siblings so we hope we can ‘soft release’ her – a process whereby we supplement feed and provide shelter whilst Kitty establishes herself in the woodland.
“If this release goes well, we will take on other reds that need rearing in the future.”
The zoo will soon launch an educational trail about red squirrels, with support from the Friends of Kirkley Hall and fund-raising by staff and students, and encourage visitors to report sightings at www.rsne.org.uk
It has just received two Blue Cross Animals In Education awards for Best Mammal Welfare for primates and Best Bird Welfare for its wetland aviary.