Animal Management: Bede’s Polecats Have Kittens!

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During the summer holidays, we at Bede's Animal Management Unit found that we had taken on some additional boarders.

As it turned out, these new residents were very welcome indeed - a pair of our European polecats had produced a litter of eight kittens!

The Bede's Polecats are part of a managed conservation breeding programme between several UK zoos that breed the animals potentially for release to the wild.

The kittens will be moved to another participating zoo or wildlife park in the Spring when they are old enough to leave their parents and make their own contribution to helping sustain this species in the UK.

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Bede's Head of Animal Management Paul Juniper explained, "Polecats were hunted almost to extinction by gamekeepers at the end of the nineteenth century in the UK but this solitary, night-time hunter is making something of a comeback in Wales and the Midlands.

"Farmers and foresters now welcome them as they benefit from their healthy appetite for rabbits and rodents."

The parents of this large family are named Bramble (mum) and Chestnut (dad). They joined the School's animal collection back in May when they arrived from Shepreth Wildlife Park in Cambridgeshire.

All of the staff and students at Bede's are now looking forward to watching the litter grow up!