Beavers at Martin Mere
The release of the WWT Martin Mere beavers
WWT, established 61 years ago, is the UK’s only specialist wetland conservation charity for protection of waterfowl and wetlands. Martin Mere, one of nine WWT Centres, is one of Britain’s most important wetland sites for migratory birds with an additional captive collection of endangered waterfowl.
\WWT has diversified with a focus not just on waterfowl, but also mammals that inhabit wetlands. Beavers are the original creators of wetlands and became extinct in the UK in the 1500s.
Reintroduction schemes have boosted populations but even though place names, such as Beverly in Yorkshire, are derived from the word ‘beaver’, there is nowhere in the North of England that offers a facility to learn about beavers or watch them in their natural habitat. Martin Mere was the perfect location to develop this unique exhibit.
Four Eurasian beavers were released on Wednesday 11 July 2007. The release was filmed by Animal 24/7. The programme, aired in November, coincided with the Autumnwatch series, live on television. The adult beavers were named as part of a competition in newspapers and they are official members of the Vegetarian Society who have named a national children’s group after Twiggy, the adult female.
PR was separated into three areas: promotion prior to release, the actual release and when the TV filming aired three months after release. Marketed through local, regional and national PR, the beavers have generated huge interest and visitation. Trained volunteers undertake daily talks and an evaluation questionnaire is in the enclosure feedback on the exhibit.
WWT Martin Mere
WINNER of BIAZA Award 2008 (small collection) for Best public relations project