First baby red squirrels born at Yorkshire Arboretum

Four red squirrels have been born at an arboretum in North Yorkshire as part of a project to boost their population.

The baby red squirrels were born to two mothers, Holly and Hazel, who along with the dad, Erik the Red, arrived at the Yorkshire Arboretum last winter.

The youngsters have now begun taking their first trips out of the nest box, a site spokesperson said.

Ben Paterson, red squirrel officer, said the team was "really pleased that the squirrels have bred so soon".

"We really didn't know if they would [breed], so this is wonderful," he said.

"The kits will eventually go on to other facilities, ensuring that there's a viable population of captive red squirrels to use in reintroduction projects in future."

The animals live in a 2,500 sq m (26,909 sq ft) enclosure near Castle Howard, which opened on 1 April and is designed to keep grey squirrels out.

The parent red squirrels are part of a breeding network that aims to ensure there is a genetically diverse population of the species in captivity.