Little lamb bouncing back after a slightly shaky start in East Park
THREE lambs are now bounding about full of energy in East Park – after one had his life saved by dedicated wildlife rangers.
Staff at the park's Animal Education Centre feared the smallest of the Cameroon lambs might die after being born underdeveloped.
The youngster was moved inside and snuggled up to his mother to keep warm, while staff bottle-fed him to keep his strength up.
Another of the ewes acted as a milk donor while his mum was struggling to produce.
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But a week later, the tiny animal was let out into the paddock to run around with his sisters.
Richard Brown, wildlife development officer, said the lambs are all healthy and settling in at the centre.
"The Cameroon sheep are unique. There are not many places in the UK that have them," he said.
"When the three lambs arrived we were just shutting up for the day.
"Although we've had goats born this year, these are the first lambs and they arrived about a month late.
"The smallest lamb is still quite slow but he'll catch up with his sisters in no time.
"It's great to have a few girls about because we always end up with boys."
Wildlife ranger Helen Williams said the staff were all concerned about the little lamb.
"We were worried the mother might reject him," she said.
"He wasn't breathing at first and he was very cold.
"We put heat lamps in the stable but he was running out of energy and wouldn't feed off his mother.
"They were brought inside the centre and his health started to pick up.
"We're glad he's now getting on well with the others, even though he has to catch up socially and physically.
"It's quite funny because one of his sisters is twice the size of him."
The Cameroon is a domesticated breed of sheep from west Africa but has been exported to Europe.
As of 2008, there were fewer than 650 but the population has since increased slightly.
Ewes can raise two lamb crops a year and their most common colour is brown with a black belly, head, and legs.
There are currently four adult sheep and three lambs at the centre while the babies' father remains in West Park.
Mr Brown said: "We named him Mufasa from The Lion King. He's on holiday at the moment but he'll be back soon.
"Cameroon sheep are great because outside of breeding season the males are like pet dogs.
"Mufasa is very silly and friendly and no doubt his son will be the same."
He said the lambs will remain at the Animal Education Centre for a number of weeks but could be taken to a local farmer to stop inter- breeding.
"We don't know what will happen yet but we are keeping the adult sheep here and hope to see more lambs," Mr Brown said.
"It will take a bit of time for the small lamb to adjust but he's making progress.
"It shows how dedicated our staff and volunteers are that they are willing to work overtime at a moment's notice to care for the animals in an emergency.
"We're just glad the little lamb is still with us."
People are being invited to sponsor and name the three new arrivals.
Call the East Park team on 01482 300300 for more information.