Animal Management Department Welcomes Endangered Dormice

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The Hazel Dormouse is the only native species of Dormouse to the British Isles. Over the past 4 years Bede’s Zoological Society has been working collaboratively with ZSL London Zoo and Paignton Zoo Environmental Park to breed the nationally endangered Hazel Dormouse for release into the wild.

Sadly, poor management of woodland habitats and loss of hedgerow has contributed to their decline. There are currently only 20 captive breeding pairs in the country and we are very fortunate to have one pair at Bede’s.

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Over the past weeks, the team have been busy preparing for the arrival of two new dormice from Wildwood, Kent, ready to begin the breeding process.

In preparation, we visited the local area close to the Arlington reservoir to investigate the natural habitat of the hazel dormouse. We have spent time ensuring there are the right plant organisms growing in the enclosure; brambles, honeysuckle, hazel and high branches for the dormice to climb and move around the enclosure.

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On 16 June, our two new hazel dormice, Tangle and Angela, arrived. They are currently a year old and will be kept at the Bede’s Animal Management Centre for three seasons. After the breeding process, they will be soft released into the wild with their offspring where they are regionally extinct.

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To date 15 individuals bred at the School have helped to bolster wild populations. It is an exciting opportunity for the pupils at Bede’s to be involved in this breeding programme, and we hope to be able to continue supporting their growth. 

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