Chipmunks make bid for freedom

EVERYTHING went nutty at a town centre park when staff were run ragged by 30 chipmunks after they escaped from their cage.Visitors to Sudbury's Belle Vue Park were greeted to the sight of park staff, wearing gloves and armed with nets, chasing around trying to recapture the speedy creatures, which had fled to all corners of the picnic site.

EVERYTHING went nutty at a town centre park when staff were run ragged by 30 chipmunks after they escaped from their cage.

Visitors to Sudbury's Belle Vue Park were greeted to the sight of park staff, wearing gloves and armed with nets, chasing around trying to recapture the speedy creatures, which had fled to all corners of the picnic site.

Park Ranger Doreen Hunn was startled when she arrived at work yesterday to find that vandals had got into the park and kicked through the wire caging which housed the animals.

She grabbed three members of staff and sprung into action when she realised around 30 of the 40 chipmunks kept there had escaped.


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The quick-witted and fast moving animals could be seen scaling trees, scuttling through bushes, skipping over the lawns and even climbing on the children's play equipment in the park.

Although an exhausted Mrs Hunn saw the funny side of the antics, she was also angry at what the vandals had done.

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She said: "When I came in this morning I noticed the front of the cage had been kicked through and most of the chipmunks had escaped.

"When I got here they were running about everywhere having the time of their lives, but it was hard work for us. We had to go around trying to get them and we didn't manage it, but fortunately because of their nature they will probably return on their own by the end of the day.

"I am angry because the vandals have caused so much trouble and we might not get all the animals back which is a shame."

Belle Vue Park has an array of animals, including chickens, doves, parrots and rabbits, on show to the public. The chipmunks were introduced around four years ago.

At the time there was just eight baby chipmunks, but a successful breeding programme means there is now around 60 at the park, kept in two separate locations.

Staff managed to recapture around 17 of the animals, and were optimistic most would return in their own time.

Mrs Hunn added: "The vandals must have got in overnight and caused the damage. It is sick really because everybody loves the chipmunks and we work hard to look after them to ensure they thrive here.

"This mindless vandalism just ruins it for everybody."

Anybody who has any information about the damage should telephone Pc David Thomas at Sudbury police station on 01284 774300.

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