Two new Eriskay Pony foals arrived at the park recently, and with a third on the way there’s very real hope for the future of the breed.
The ponies are native to Scotland, and at one stage the pure-bred population had crashed to just 20. Luckily the park’s stallion, Cathal, is one of only eight pure-bred Eriskay stallions left in the world.
Senior animal keeper Lucy Gillie said: “We’re absolutely over the moon with the foals, and we’re so proud to be part of the effort to save the breed.
“Along with the Eriskay Pony Society, we’re co-ordinating the breeding of a selection of stallions and mares. The filly born to our pure-bred mare, Breagha, is the first pure-bred progeny here at the park and together with the colt born to another of the ponies, Sally, she represents a huge step forward in the battle to save the breed,” she added.
Breagha’s filly has been named Palacerigg Seonaid in honour of her place of birth – as a tribute to one of the few authorised breeding centres for Eriskay ponies in the UK.
Palacerigg is also rapidly developing a reputation as one of the country’s most successful breeding centres for a selection of other rare livestock animals including Tamworth pigs, North Ronaldsay and Boreray sheep, Shetland and White Park cattle and rare goats.
This year has seen a record number of lambs born to the rare-breed sheep, and it’s shaping up to be another hugely satisfying season for the volunteers and staff. Lucy said: “Palacerigg is a tremendous local attraction but it’s also a vitally important centre for the preservation of rare breeds, and we’re delighted to welcome every new arrival,” she added.