Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Squirrels squat Finnish open-air museum

HELSINKI (AFP) — A popular open-air museum in Helsinki showing the traditional Finnish way of life on Monday begged the public to stop feeding local squirrels, saying they were eating away at the displays.

The 87 buildings that make up the Seurasaari museum, including cottages, manor houses, barns and other storage buildings, offer plenty of good places for the squirrels to nest and hide food.

"The squirrels have learned to hide food between wooden shingles on the roof. We saw a squirrel pulling at a shingle with its two paws until it broke," Seurasaari museum building conservator Risto Holopainen told AFP.

"Squirrels run into the buildings through open doors, they nibble on the museum textiles and make holes in the walls," he said.

He said the squirrels were causing extra work for employees.
The outdoor museum is located some four kilometres (2.5 miles) from the city centre on a small island and displays the Finnish way of life over the past few centuries.
Seurasaari is very popular among tourists and locals, not least because of the tame squirrels. An easy life has led to a dramatic increase of the squirrel population on the small island.

The museum said it was trying to tackle the problem by asking people not to feed the squirrels and preventing them getting into buildings.

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