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South Cumbria Zoo keeps conservation in the family

Enticing dark eyes, lithe body, sinuous movements and an enticing air of mystery: it’s no wonder she was one of the most popular exhibits at Milnthorpe’s Lakeland Wildlife Oasis.

Now the legacy of ‘Perdy’- the third-oldest recorded fossa in captivity - is set to continue, with plans for the arrival of her great-great-granddaughter.

Fossa are secretive, slender, cat-like predators found only among the tropical forest of Madagascar. Due to devastating 90% habitat loss, the species is feared to be on the brink of extinction, with an estimated fewer than 2,600 surviving in the wild.

The Oasis is part of the European Captive Breeding Programme, a vital lifeline to preserving the species. Matriarch Perdy was at the Oasis for 14 years before she died in autumn 2021 at a record age of 22. Not only popular with visitors, she started a legendary legacy, with healthy offspring going on to help propagate the species in zoos across Europe.

Now staff are getting ready to welcome back the great-great-granddaughter of Perdy herself! Arriving from Chester Zoo in the spring, she was born in 2022 and will be the prospective new girlfriend for the zoo’s handsome male, Mango.

Dan Eccles, Manager of Living Collections explained: “We’re one of only six places in the UK where you can you can see fossa. 

‘’If the introductions go well with Mango, they’ll be a breeding pair. It’s an incredible opportunity for the Oasis, our visitors, and fossa survival.”

However, the path to welcoming the patter of small fossa paws still needs to be paved, with hard work and fundraising. Committed, as ever, to providing the very best, nature-evoking environments for their inhabitants, the zoo has launched a crowdfunding page for donations towards building a bespoke fossa penthouse.

A planned new triple-size enclosure will allow the new arrival to settle into her own territory, while able to see and communicate with Mango in his bachelor pad. Normally solitary creatures, introductions will be done slowly and carefully throughout 2024, timed for the female reaching maturity in 2025.

“The right environment will be vital to encouraging relaxed, natural behaviour” says Dan.

“We’re incredibly grateful for every donation, however small, which will allow us to say “thank you” by providing the best fossa views possible. Having Perdy’s great-great-granddaughter here, with fingers crossed for future developments, is such an exciting thing to happen!’’

The Oasis’s crowdfunder page is at https://gofund.me/5445b2bb

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