[Pictures Niall Owen and Matt Rimmer]

A RARE and endangered baby Pine Marten has been born at the Welsh Mountain Zoo.

It is the first Pine Marten born at the Colwyn Bay attraction in 15 years.

North Wales Pioneer:

Kim Wood, director of Living Collections at the Welsh Mountain Zoo, said: “Pine Martens are native to North Wales, however, numbers severely declined during the 18th and 19th centuries, and have failed to recover.

"To manage this, a reintroduction programme was recently approved involving the release of captive bred Pine Martens into their historic range, with the aim of increasing the wild population and improving genetic diversity.

"Our current pair of Pine Martens have been here at the zoo for two years and this recent birth is a definite cause for celebration."

North Wales Pioneer:

The zoo has kept and bred the mammals - a cat-sized member of the weasel family - for many years and is involved in national breeding programmes.

Dr Craig Shuttleworth, of Gwynedd Pine Marten Project, said: “We are delighted to hear about the breeding success which is a great step in the restoration of native pine martens to North Wales.

"The Gwynedd project has learned a great deal from the Vincent Wildlife Trust pine marten work in Mid Wales and we will offer volunteers the chance to be involved in every stage of our release programme."

The zoo collaborates with organisations across the world for the development of captive breeding programmes.

The recent birth of the first Pine Marten from the current pairing at the zoo provides opportunity for involvement with a wider reintroduction project, which will be taking place in North Wales.