Seven-foot tall hedgehog sighted in Surrey - sculpture, that is!

Wildlife lovers on the look-out to catch a glimpse of a hedgehog are certainly in for an eye-full at the British Wildlife Centre (BWC) near Lingfield.

The centre on the A22 at Newchapel, which is home to native species of all shapes and sizes, has taken delivery of a giant hedgehog sculpture.

The 7ft tall hedgehog, called Snuffles, has been donated to the centre by UKTV.

The life-like structure was built by UKTV to mark the second series of David Attenborough’s Natural Curiosities, airing on the TV channel Watch. It was created by a team of specialist sculptors using mainly natural materials – 2,000 soft wood spikes, willow and coconut fibre. The team spent many weeks ensuring that its appearance was as realistic as possible - with the exception of its size.

Sir David Attenborough was pleased with the hedgehog’s move to the BWC, saying: “I am delighted that the giant hedgehog has found such an appropriate home.”

Sadly, the hedgehog, once a familiar nocturnal garden visitor, is now a rare sight and their numbers continue to dwindle. In the 1950s, the UK hedgehog population was an estimated 30 million. Since then numbers have plummeted and some estimates put the current number at less than a million.

BWC owner David Mills said: “We’ve given the hedgehog pride of place at our main entrance, to give visitors a huge welcome.

“It’s perfect for the centre as we are home to the finest collection of native species in the country.”

He said: “Our visitors love seeing the hedgehogs at our keeper talks. They are such a popular and iconic British species, now sadly in decline.”

The BWC opens every weekend and during state school holidays, and will be open over Easter from Saturday, April 5, to Monday, April 21.

The hedgehog keeper talks take place at 1pm daily during open dates. Website: www.britishwildlifecentre.co.uk

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