It started with one lonesome hairy armadillo looking for love, but staff at Milnthorpe’s Wildlife Oasis are gearing up to form their own five-a-side ’dillo football team, after a real love match resulted in the patter of tiny paws.
When hopeful bachelor Tank arrived two years ago in autumn 2019, he captured hearts across the North West, who eagerly followed his search for love. Joined by younger girlfriend Nessa in early 2020, early signs looked good. The pair cosied up during lockdown and enjoyed scuttling round their special assault course, built by their caring keepers.
However, like an episode of Love Island, Tank and Nessa “friend zoned” each other so a new less platonic mate had to be found. Enter Dozer, who came on the scene in spring 2021. Half the size of gentle giant Tank, his charms proved irresistible to Nessa, reigniting keepers’ dreams of having the county’s first home-bred armadillo family.
Now the ‘little zoo with lots to do’, a well-regarded conservation charity at the forefront of captive breeding programmes for endangered species, has cause to celebrate again, welcoming not one but two armadillo pups.
“We’re all thrilled,” says head keeper, Neil Cook. “Armadillos typically give birth to twins, so when we spotted nesting behaviours, we all held our breath. Armadillo or human, first-time parenthood can be tricky, so it was vital to maintain total privacy in those first important weeks, ensuring we gave Nessa the right conditions, care and nutrition, without intruding.”
After plenty of private nursery time, the six week old male pups, now named Digger and Dumper, are on show to a delighted public, showing every sign of being as characterful and energetic as their parents and ‘Uncle’ Tank, who now happily resides next door.
“After the worry and upheaval of the last couple of years, it feels like a red letter day for our animals, keepers and visitors,” adds Neil. “Continuing our journey into a positive future for animal conservation and education, watching the antics of these gorgeous new armadillo babies can’t fail to put a smile on everyone’s face!”
The Lakeland Wildlife Oasis is open every day, with advance booking recommended as part of social distancing entry guidelines. To keep up to date with all new arrivals and animal antics, see www.wildlifeoasis.co.uk, ‘Lakeland Wildlife Oasis’ on Facebook.