Beavers

We are now home to three rescued beavers; Twiggy, Barbara and Norbert! The two girls are sisters and are now living in their large woodland enclosure, Norbert is currently in our beaver nursery.

 

The Cornish Seal Sanctuary team is incredibly excited to finally announce their “Secret Creek” project which will be taking place in the large woodland area of the Sanctuary.   

Conservationists and beaver re-wilding campaigners across Britain are now trialling many projects, bringing beavers into managed environments to study their impact on nature.  

Wild beavers had been living in Great Britain over 400 years ago before going extinct. They were mainly hunted for their fur and glandular oil, secreted from the base of their tail, thought to contain medicinal properties.  

Beavers are known as a ‘keystone species’. This is because their natural behaviour has a big impact on our landscape and wildlife. By damming waterways, beavers pool water, slowing the flow in rivers and streams. This water floods an area, creating new wetland and attracting wildlife, providing a home and water source for many species.  

As wildlife conservation is at the heart of all the Sanctuary’s efforts, we have paired up with various conservation groups across the country to decide on the best use of the large woodland area at the sanctuary. It was quickly decided that beavers would make an excellent addition to the sanctuary, providing them with the perfect habitat which will in return open doors to research to further study their impact on the environment.  

Our old otter enclosure has been repurposed and updated to create a new “Beaver Nursery” for the pair, where they will spend their first few months settling in, with the team keeping a close eye on their behaviour and eating habits.  

Once they have reached a good healthy weight and have the capability of building lodges and dams, they will be moved to their brand-new home in the large 5 km2 wooded area behind the Beaver Nursery to live a natural beaver life. “The Secret Creek”project would not have been possible without the vital funding provided by the Postcode Local Trust. 

We are planning various research projects to understand more about beaver behaviour in the wild and how they impact the environment they inhabit. It is known that their presence is beneficial and may even help to combat climate change. 

The projects will mainly focus on monitoring water pollution and impact of damming, biodiversity counts, landscape changes and public perception on beaver rewilding which in return will generate educational content to share with guests visiting the seal sanctuary.  

Beavers are very secretive creatures, mostly active during the night, which makes it difficult for the public to engage with these mammals. The aim of the “Secret Creek” area at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary is to provide engaging educational content for visitors to learn about these enigmatic animals. Returning guests will see landscape changes happening over time, while there is always the possibility to catch a glimpse of the beaver sisters hard at work.  

The Secret Creek project at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary would never be possible without the help and support of other organisations. From licensing, rescue, transport and care for these beaver sisters, it has been a journey for all.  

Natural England has provided all necessary licensing to keep beavers at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary. The Beaver Trust and Chris Jones, Farmer and Director of Restoration, were invaluable support through the whole project development, sharing information and advice on how successfully managed beaver reintroduction. 

Dr Roisin Campbell- Palmer, beaver ecologist and practitioner, rescued and transported the beavers to the Cornish Seal Sanctuary, while working closely with Five Sister Zoo in West Calder for their initial care and vet checks and later with Derek Gow Consultancy for their temporary housing. Dr Roisin Campbell-Palmer and her colleague, Robert Needham, were also integral in conducting a feasibility study on the Secret Creek area at the Sanctuary to assess suitability of the habitat for the beavers.

The two sisters are now living in their large woodland enclosure, Norbert is currently in our beaver nursery.

These three were given a second chance, and this is just the beginning of their story. We need your help to ensure we can provide expert care to the rescued beaver, carry out the vital ecological projects and introduce an exciting visitors centre. The centre will provide engaging educational content for visitors to learn about these amazing animals, and returning guests will see landscape changes, and can even spot the beavers hard at work. Any donation big or small will go such a long to help support this amazing new adventure, that will benefit so many for the future.

Photo credit: Jack Hicks