Pick up a free plant at Chester Zoo this half term and help protect a rare species of moth.
As part of a Wildlife Connections campaign barberry plants, eaten by hungry caterpillars, are being given to visitors.
The barberry carpet moth is on the list of protected UK species. Its hungry caterpillars only eat the leaves of the barberry plant which has also been disappearing from the UK.
Barberry is also a haven for other wildlife, as bees love its yellow flowers and birds eat its berries.
Since 2013, Chester Zoo conservationists have been working with the Canal and River Trust, Butterfly Conservation and other zoos to help save this species – and have been planting the barberry bushes in hedges along canals across the North West.
Now, horticulturists at Chester Zoo have grown more than 1,500 of the barberry bushes and will be giving them away for free to visitors during February half term as part of its Wildlife Connections campaign to protect endangered UK wildlife.
It is hoped that by planting the bushes in their gardens, visitors to the zoo will be helping to create a network of safe spaces for the threatened moth and especially its caterpillars.
Wildlife Connections project officer at the zoo Manon Keir said: “From rhinos to orangutans, most of us are aware that animal species across the globe are under threat – and most wish they could do more to help.
“What people may not realise that over the last two centuries more than 500 unique species have been lost forever to extinction, right here in the UK.
“Now, more than ever, conservation is critical - but there is hope. We won’t stand back; we won’t give up. Every one of us can take simple actions.
“With almost 1.9 million people visiting the zoo each year we think we are uniquely placed to help inspire the nation. We hope people will join us in protecting threatened species here in the UK by taking this free bush and planting it at home this spring, creating safe habitats for UK wildlife to thrive. Thank you to everyone who joins our fight.”
The free plants are available from the main entrance at the zoo until Thursday, February 23. Chester Zoo is also hoping to inspire a love of all things gardens, birds and wildlife with a packed programme of Bloom themed events, starting during February half term.