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Missing raccoon returned to zoo

Tanuki has been returned to the zoo Credit: ITV News

A raccoon dog has been returned to a zoo after going missing in a badger cull area of Somerset.

Tanuki, which belongs to the same family as wolves and foxes, vanished from an enclosed area at Tropiquaria zoo near Minehead.

The raccoon dog went missing at 8pm on Saturday and staff arrived the following day to find damage to a wire panel and a steel bar removed.

Police launched an investigation but a member of the public found Tanuki sniffing a fox carcass half a mile away from the zoo on Sunday evening.

The dog was handed to Vanessa Mason, of Secret World wildlife centre, who brought her back to the zoo after a check-up.

Chris Moiser, zoological director of Tropiquaria, appealed for witnesses to contact police with information about the disappearance.

"We are ever so pleased to have her back and have now placed her in a different enclosure to the one that she was in originally whilst we assess her condition," Mr Moiser said.

"Although she appears fit and well at present we cannot be sure what she has eaten whilst out, or what wild animal diseases she may have come into contact with.

"Fortunately she is immunised against the most common ones though.

"From social website chatter there appear to have been several anti-badger cull people in the area at the time that she disappeared who think that they may have seen something.

"We do ask that they contact the police with any information they may have, even down to timings, because this will increase the chance of an arrest.

"Clearly releasing an animal like this during the badger cull period is an act of crass stupidity and could have led to the death of the animal. We are fortunate that it didn't."

Anyone with information is asked to contact Avon and Somerset Police on 101, quoting incident number.

Bumper crop of piglets at Puxton Park

13 piglets is the biggest drove the park have seen Credit: Puxton Park

Puxton Park have welcomed a new drove of piglets, leading to a record breaking year for the number of pigs born at the farm.

The 13 new piglets are the biggest batch the Somerset attraction has seen. This year the park has already seen a record breaking year for lambs.

Our visitor numbers have been higher than ever with visitors flocking to see our baby lambs and baby donkey, Raggles.

Now we have another new drove of 13 piglets at our park, resulting in us achieving a record year in terms of the number of piglets born here at Puxton.

All the piglets are doing really well and are looking forward to meeting all of our visitors over the coming months.

– Puxton managing director Alistair Mead

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Raccoon dog missing from zoo in Somerset

The dog escaped on Saturday morning. Credit: Chris Moiser/PA Wire

Police are investigating after a raccoon dog went missing from Tropiquaria zoo near Minehead in Somerset.

The raccoon dog, also known as a tanuki, was last seen at 8pm on Friday night but when staff arrived on Saturday morning they found damage to a wire panel and a steel bar removed.

The animal's name is tanuki, which is also the Japanese name for the species, she was a rescue animal that had been homed with us for a couple of months only.

Although the arrival of the animal had been reported in the local newspapers only a few days before she disappeared, she was not on show to the public, and other than the keeping staff only half a dozen people were aware of where the animal was being kept.

– Chris Moiser, Zoo director

Anyone with information is asked to contact police.

Hedgehog dumped in dog waste bin

Winnie the hedgehog Credit: Secret World

A hedgehog has been rescued after being dumped in a dog waste bin in Somerset.

Two ladies heard the hedgehog while they were walking their dogs in Clevedon. They rescued the hedgehog - which has been named Winnie - and took it to the Secret World Wildlife Rescue centre where it is being treated for a laceration head wound.

the hedgehog has been taken to the Secret World Wildlife Rescue centre where it is being treated for a laceration head wound. Credit: Secret World

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Protesters try to disrupt badger cull

Marksmen were out in Somerset and Gloucestershire last night as the second badger cull got underway. The government confirmed shooting has started as part of its controversial attempt to prevent the spread of bovine TB in cattle.

This year targets have been lowered to 316 badgers in Somerset, and 615 in Gloucestershire. Overall the aim is for a reduction of 70 per cent in badger populations over the successive culls.

Protesters were also out in both counties trying to disrupt the cull.

Labour MP says Government should listen to the evidence

Maria Eagle MP, Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary Credit: PA

Labour's Shadow Environment Secretary has spoken out against the Government's decision to resume culling in Gloucestershire and Somerset.

She says the Government should listen to the scientific evidence and put an end to what she calls 'disastrous badger culls'.

Last year an Independent Expert Panel concluded that these badger culls were ‘ineffective’ and ‘inhumane’, and more recently they have been described as an ‘epic failure’ by the Chief Scientific Advisor to Natural England. But instead of abandoning these appalling culls the Government have chosen to press ahead without any further independent expert monitoring.

Labour has consistently said that to get Bovine TB under control we need to bring in stricter cattle measures and prioritise badger and cattle vaccinations, but these culls are not the answer.

– Maria Eagle MP, Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary

Team Badger speaks out against culls

Team Badger calls for culls to be cancelled Credit: PA

Team Badger, representing 25 different organisations with a total of 2 million supporters, is calling for the second year of badger culling in Somerset and Gloucestershire to be stopped.

It's almost beyond belief that the Government is blundering ahead with a second year of inept and barbaric badger killing. TB in cattle in England is currently at it lowest level in 10 years, the drop being predictably the result of improved husbandry in cattle. So this is a most inappropriate moment for Cameron to be wasting tax payers' money persecuting our wildlife against the advice of every independent scientist in the field; even the Government's own expert panel has branded the cull as ineffective and inhumane.

Current revelations from a whistle blower damn the process even more - making it clear that the numbers the present shooters are working towards are completely unreliable. This cull is a failure and a disgrace - no more than the fulfilment of a dirty promise - which will rebound on this Government at election time.

– Dr Brian May

If you read the document you'll see it is full of caveats about the unreliability of the methods they have used. To then use such methods to derive some target numbers in an attempt to give the culls an air of scientific credibility is an affront to the principles of good science.

– Dr Chris Cheeseman

Second badger cull underway

This year's controversial badger cull in Somerset and Gloucestershire is underway, the Government has announced.

The second year of a four-year scheme has started in the two counties in an attempt to prevent the spread of bovine TB in cattle.

We are pursuing a comprehensive strategy supported by leading vets which includes cattle movement controls, vaccinating badgers in edge areas and culling badgers where the disease is rife. This is vital for the future of our beef and dairy industries, and our nation's food security. At present we have the highest rates of bovine TB in Europe. Doing nothing is not an option and that is why we are taking a responsible approach to dealing with bovine TB.

– Elizabeth Truss MP, Environment Secretary
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