Situated in the beautiful Armathwaite Hall Estate is our very own Lake District Wildlife Park. It is home to hundreds of different species of animals and insects and plays a critical role in our conservation objectives.
Last week they had another exciting new arrival at The Park. The Keepers were going about their daily rounds when they noticed the birth of a new-born lamb. This may seem quite normal for this time of year, with spring lambs in the fields. However, this was no ordinary lamb…
The lamb that has been born is that of a Cameroon sheep and it had the Park staff completely puzzled as the new arrival was unexpected. And so, it became a detective investigation to discover who was the daddy! The gestation period of a sheep is approximately 5 months and during this time the Cameroon sheep had been in the indoor area where the living nativity scene is held at Christmas time.
The first part of the mystery is that the little lamb’s mother is a Cameroon Sheep. The second part of the mystery is that the two Cameroon sheep at the Park are both ewes (females). The third part of the mystery is that there has not been a tup (male) in with them… as far as staff were aware!
Calendars were looked at and dates were checked as to how this could possibly have happened. The Lake District Wildlife Park forms part of the larger Armathwaite Hall Estate. This is home to a flock of Herdwick sheep and a flock of Soay sheep. The sheep spend some of their time at the Park and they are generally moved off to other fields in the winter to let the paddocks “rest”.
After much pondering the conclusion that staff came to was as follows. When the Cameroon sheep were in one of the estate fields before moving down to the Park, they must have had a visitor. The Soay sheep were in a neighbouring field and somehow the Saoy tup (male) must have decided to go on a little adventure. This adventure would have involved breaking through the fence, mating with the female Cameroon, and then going back to his flock. All of this was done very stealthily, and he covered his tracks well! The sheep are checked daily by the staff and there were no signs at all that he had been on a visit.
However, the result is a good one and we have a beautiful healthy lamb and mum is also doing well. They are both still in the undercover nativity area and so can be seen close up. The youngster is a lovely new addition to the Park.