A HOLIDAY home rental agency has extended its partnership with Chester Zoo to help fund a brand new scientific research project.

Chester-based Sykes Holiday Cottages are supporting the zoo to progress vital work focused on the conservation of wildlife in the UK.

The project will help to protect a wide range of small mammal species living right across the zoo's 583-acre site.

Experts have been surveying the species in different habitats throughout the zoo in recent months, including badgers, otters, weasels, polecats and several other creatures – collectively known as mustelids.

The purpose of their research is to get a better understanding of the behaviours of these animals, to help to inform future conservation strategies and ensure the species continue to thrive in Cheshire.

Since 2017, Sykes’ support has also helped the zoo to fund various education programmes, allowing wildlife specialists to learn more about various native species and how to prevent their extinction.

Graham Donoghue, CEO at Sykes Holiday Cottages, said: "Over the past four years, we’ve developed a great relationship with Chester Zoo, and we’re really pleased to be able to build on this.

"We hope our support of their latest research project allows them to make some exciting discoveries about these amazing animals while helping to protect local wildlife."

Helen Bradshaw, field conservation programme coordinator – UK & site ecology at Chester Zoo, added: "Right now, global biodiversity has reached a tipping point.

"The planet is losing species at an alarming rate and protecting the wonderful wildlife on our doorstep is more important than ever.

"The scientific research work we are carrying out right around the zoo site is crucial to our understanding of how species are faring in Cheshire and what action plans may be required to conserve them.

"The support of key local partners such as Sykes will help us to take big strides forward in our research."