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Rare beasts from around the world make Hopwood Hall College their new home


As Seven Worlds, One Planet continues to amaze audiences, one Greater Manchester college has been welcoming its own animals from around the world.

From endangered keeled box turtles to the world’s smallest land mammal – the Etruscan shrew, Hopwood Hall College has welcomed numerous new species to its Animal Management department.

Etruscan shrew at Hopwood Hall College

The College’s Middleton campus has added many new rare and interesting species to its animal facilities to help the conservation of these amazing creatures and to educate its Animal Management students in a way that is directly relevant to animal-based careers.

One of the rarest of the new arrivals is the Malagasy giant jumping rat (or votsitse). Native to the western side of Madagascar, this endangered species is on loan to the College from the Madagascan government as part of an international breeding programme and offers students the chance to study one of the rarest and most unique nocturnal animals in the world.

Another mammal that has quickly become a favourite at Hopwood Hall College is the Etruscan shrew. The smallest land mammal in the world joined the College from Prague Zoo and the group are the only examples of their species in the whole of the UK. Students will be working to increase the population of the quick-moving shrew and learn more about the animal – such as its unusually fast metabolism.

In the reptile rooms, new arrivals have also come in the form of the Savu python, famed for their bright white eyes and the endangered keeled box turtle.

Hopwood Hall College's Savu Python

The tiny turtles are a part of a breeding programme set up to combat to the plight of Asian turtles (and especially box turtles) which is becoming more and more dramatic. Students will learn how to manage one of the most interesting turtle species, monitoring growth rates for research into this little-known species and help hold an insurance population of a species which is endangered in the wild.

Hopwood Hall College keeled box turtle

One of the more instantly recognisable species to join Hopwood Hall College is the snowy owl, famed after the Harry Potter franchise popularised them as the character 'Hedwig'. But their fame, along with climate change, are the reason they have recently been classified as a vulnerable species.

The aim for the pair of owls is to create a breeding pair and help boost the numbers of one of the most instantly recognisable birds.

And perhaps the strangest of all the new arrivals… Comedian Bill Bailey’s giant rabbit. The rabbit, formerly his pet, was used in promotional material for his comedy tour but has found a new home as part of the ‘small’ mammals department.

Bill Bailey and his rabbit, now at Hopwood Hall College

Applications for the College’s Animal Management courses can be made on their website: