Workers in the "Tsarskaya Paseka" (Tsar's apiary) environmental education centre, on the grounds of Izmailovski Park in Moscow, a site of historical interest used for conservation, have begun to breed squirrels.
Six males and 6 females have been brought in from a nursery outside Moscow, in the hope that they will mate in the park. The young squirrels were placed in comfortable wooden cages, 'furnished' with parts of tree branches. They have been fed seeds, apples and nuts. According to one expert at the centre, "they are particularly fond of cedar nuts. Now they don't want to eat anything else, and they're getting ill".
Conservationists at the centre are eagerly waiting for February, the squirrels' mating period. "The females are very demanding in their choice of partners", say the environmentalists, "so we may have to replace some of the "unwanted" males with new specimens".
When they are a little older, the young will be set loose in the park.