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Wildwood pine martens in tunnel of love

Pine martens at Wildwood
Pine martens at Wildwood

Conservationists at a Kent wildlife park have launched a 24-hour Love Patrol to get two notoriously grouchy animals mating in their tunnel of love.

Staff at Wildwood near Canterbury put up the specially-built enclosure to bring together two pairs of pine martens.

Pine martens are a solitary and fiercely territorial creature and often attack potential mates.

Their behaviour is made worse in captive situations – and is why they’re dubbed Britain's most dangerous lovers.

Now member of the park’s Love Patrol are waiting with baited breath to see if Cupid’s Arrow strikes.

The tunnel, used for the last three years, is an effort to mimic the ideal natural breeding environment.

It winds around both the female enclosures and has proved a great success so far with two pine marten young being born.

Normally, Wildwood's six pine martens each have to be kept in their own enclosure.

They regard this as their territory and would defend it against intruding other pine martens of either sex.

Pine marten tunnel of love at Wildwood
Pine marten tunnel of love at Wildwood

But this summer two pairs of Wildwood's pine martens will be introduced to each other in the hope that they may breed in captivity.

Wildwood keeper Karen Price, who leads the patrol, said: "For the last week our male pine martens, have been investigating the tunnel.

"The females have has also been allowed to explore the tunnel, although not at the same time as the males!

"We have learnt a lot over the past three years and this year we are keeping our fingers crossed that we will can repeat our success of last year with more pine marten young born at Wildwood."

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