Belfast Telegraph

Harold hogging oil the attention at nursery school

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**generic hedgehog--Harold not available for photo opportunity

06 November 2004

IT was nearly 'oil' over for Harold the Hedgehog when it fell into a tank filled with the black, sticky substance.

Luckily for Harold, however, a rescue mission was launched and it was brought to a hedgehog hospital in Belfast.

When children and staff at Ballymena Nursery School heard of the hedgehog's plight they decided to adopt her.

Now safely installed in a warm hutch in the nursery school, there is no shortage of little, willing hands keen to make Harold feel as comfortable as possible.

"Harold is actually a female hedgehog," explained principal Gillian Sempey. "When she arrived, we asked the children to suggest names and write them down on pieces of paper. We chose her name by pulling it out of a hat and Harold was the winning name!

"A hedgehog is one of the animals we talk to the children about at this time of year and, in the past, we would have invited Vanessa Dreary from the hedgehog sanctuary in Belfast to come along and show the children a real hedgehog.

"This year, we decided to go one step further and actually adopt one of Vanessa's rescued hedgehogs. Harold had fallen into a tank of oil and her babies had followed her because hedgehogs have a very close mother-baby relationship.

"Children have really enjoyed getting to know Harold and bringing in bits and pieces to make a bed for her to hibernate in."

Hedgehogs normally go into hibernation in November and it seems Harold is beginning to feel rather sleepy.

"We are feeding Harold on cat food to fatten her up for hibernation but recently, she has begun to eat less often, which is a sign that she's getting ready to sleep," said Gillian.

Pupils, parents and friends will soon be able to keep in touch with Harold's story by logging on to the nursery website, which the school hopes to have up and running before Christmas.

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