Polecat postage stamp

Percy the Polecat at Colwyn Bay Zoo is helping raise awareness of his endangered plight by posing for a stamp launch at his Welsh habitat in Colwyn Bay Zoo.

Percy is one of ten mammals featured in Royal Mail's latest Action for Species series, which for several years has been turning the spotlight on the UK's threatened animal and flora and fauna population.

Head keeper at Colwyn Bay Zoo, Peter Litherland, praised Royal Mail for focussing on the mammals' struggle for survival in a changing world.

Peter said: "For example, we only have one pair of polecats at the zoo and we are certainly aware that the population is dwindling in the wild. Whatever can be done to improve the natural habitat of these creatures and their fellow mammals is to be applauded." 

The stamps, Mammals, are issued on Tuesday (13 April) in a block of ten 1st Class stamps, featuring the Polecat, Wildcat, Hedgehog, Water Vole, Otter, Dormouse, Greater Horseshoe Bat, Brown Long-Eared Bat, Humpback Whale and the Sperm Whale.

There are several hedgehog rescue centres in Wales, including centres in Pontllanfraith, Wrexham and the Bird Sanctuary in the Gower. A special wildlife conservation project investigating dormice is currently being run in Mold, North Wales. 
The British Isles is home to more than 60 species of mammals, but almost half of these have been introduced from elsewhere in the world, including some of the most abundant, like the rabbit and grey squirrel.

Peter Litherland added:"We have otters in the zoo but they are Asian otters. We don't have any British or European otters here unfortunately."

Because the UK has comparatively few land mammals, the selection criteria for the stamps was extended to include marine mammals, like the Humpback Whale, that spend part of their life cycle in UK territorial waters.
All ten featured mammals, including the seemingly prevalent hedgehog, are the subject of conservation programmes due to the effect of adverse changes in their environment.

These are caused by pollution, the growth in roads and housing developments, and in some cases, the introduction of non-native species, which have all contributed to a fall in numbers.