Suffolk Punch foal born is 'rarer than giant panda'

Suffolk Punch foal
Illustrious was born to mother Dorothy in Suffolk Credit: Suffolk Punch Trust

A foal of an endangered breed of horse that is rarer than the giant panda has been born in Suffolk.

The Suffolk Punch Trust welcomed the new foal at its site in Hollesley near Woodbridge earlier this month.

Named Illustrious, he was born to mother Dorothy and the two of them are said to be doing well.

The Suffolk Punch Trust works to preserve the critically endangered breed, which has become an icon of the county.

Illustrious was born to mother, Dorothy, in Suffolk Credit: Suffolk Punch Trust

Tracey Pettitt, who has been breeding Suffolk Punches at the trust for 14 years, said: "We've been breeding Suffolk Punches here for 260 years, so to introduce new lives here is not uncommon but it always special.

"These new lives are always so precious, and even more so because the breed is so at risk."

Mare Dorothy, with her new foal, Illustrious Credit: Suffolk Punch Trust

"Illustrious is living his best baby life at the moment and we're hoping that we will welcome more babies as the season goes on and then he'll have other babies to play with.

"He is his mother Dorothy's first baby and she has done ever so well.

"She is also particularly proud of him. When she spots visitors she takes him right over to the fence so that she can show him off and he can get lots of attention, which is quite unusual." The Suffolk horse has a total UK population of less than 500 - far less than the famously endangered giant panda, whose latest numbers are thought to be 1,864.

They are classified as a critically endangered breed by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust and among the most threatened of Britain's native horse species, according to the Rare Breeds Survival Trust's watchlist.