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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 May 2007, 08:36 GMT 09:36 UK
Four red squirrels born at park
Red squirrel kitten at Wildwood
Red squirrels have been extinct in Kent since the 1960s
Four red squirrels, which have been extinct in Kent since the 1960s, have been born at a wildlife park.

Keepers at Wildwood said the four were born last week, and it is hoped that more will arrive in the next few days.

The squirrels will eventually be sent to live in the wild on Anglesey in Wales, as part of an effort to prevent the species' extinction in the UK.

Until then, they can be visited at the park near Canterbury - the best time is before their long lunchtime nap.

The chief executive of the Wildwood Trust, Peter Smith, said: "Red squirrels are going to continue to decline towards extinction unless urgent action is taken. But it's not yet too late."

Live in a drey made of twigs, leaves and moss built in a tree
Weigh nuts in their hands to see if they will be good to eat
Hang fresh fungi in the treetops to dry and store for later
Can swim
Can hang upside down
Don't hibernate

Red squirrels were commonly seen in Britain until the 1940s and 1950s, when they declined because of competition with the American grey squirrel, which is larger, breeds more successfully, and is better able to survive cold and lack of food.

Red squirrels are now mainly found in northern England, Scotland, and parts of Wales.

But a breeding programme at Wildwood has been "very successful" and the Anglesey project will allow the squirrels to live "wild and free" and also provide a buffer population to avoid extinction, keepers said.

They added that the new squirrel arrivals like a long nap during lunchtime, especially during sunny weather, and advised anyone who wants to see them to arrive at the park by 1000 BST.


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