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Suffolk Libraries adopts feathery friends to celebrate pre-school relaunch

Ural owls Bea and Bumble

We recently sponsored Ural owls Bea and Bumble at Suffolk Owl Sanctuary as real-life counterparts to Oona, our new young children's mascot.

Bea and Bumble were captive bred in the United Kingdom and have lived as a pair for most of their lives. Their falconer, Jess said: "they have had a few clutches of eggs over the years and we are hoping a modification to their aviaries encourages them to produce a successful clutch in future."

Oona the Suffolk Libraries Wordplay owl mascot

Last month, we relaunched our sessions for pre-school children and their parents/carers as Wordplay, incorporating a brand new look featuring a set of adorable woodland creatures, headed by Oona the owl. The characters feature on our new library cards for 0-5 year-olds as well as posters and promotional bags for new members across our libraries.

Suffolk Owl Sanctuary joined us for a special launch event at Newmarket Library on Thursday 24 October, giving young library visitors the opportunity to meet Chaco owl Darwin and learn all about the birds. As part of our partnership, anyone who shows a children’s library card at the entrance to Suffolk Owl Sanctuary will get free admittance. A plaque has also been erected at the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary to represent the library’s donation.

Plaque marking Suffolk Libraries' adoption of Ural owls Bea and Bumble at Suffolk Owl Sanctuary

Suffolk Libraries Customer Service and Marketing Administrator Hannah Foulstone said: "We wanted to provide a fun and interactive experience for the children who come along to our Wordplay sessions, which have been proven to support early childhood development. Having a group of woodland characters that children feel connected to is a huge part of that.

"Adopting Bea and Bumble as our 'real life Oonas' reminds us that the skills we learn when we are young will help us make life better for others in the future, whether big or small."

A spokesperson for Suffolk Owl Sanctuary said: "While Ural owls are not currently considered endangered, woodland habitats where they are found across the planet are being put under pressure and are disappearing, so these programs of breeding and education are vital for their continuing success in the wild!"

An independent impact report recently revealed that attending children's activities in libraries has a positive effect on children's speech development and confidence, and reduces isolation for the parents/carers who attend with them.