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We're bringing back our native water voles to the Hogsmill River, to restore this vital habitat and rewild this catchment of the Thames.

by Lucas A Ruzo in Surbiton, England, United Kingdom

At Citizen Zoo, we want to live in a world filled with wildlife, where both people and wildlife can thrive alongside each other. All our projects work to restore the amazing complexity of nature, led by inspired and empowered local communities. We are a conservation social enterprise who believes in the power of rewilding; both the rewilding of people by reconnecting them to nature and the rewilding of our landscapes.

We started out as a group of friends with a shared vision for a wilder future and now we’re making strides throughout the UK with our partners to restore nature back to a functional state. As practitioners, our approach is focused on action and applying the latest research to deliver measurable outcomes. Through translocations, reintroductions, captive breeding programmes, and a whole host of other conservation actions, we’re working to rebuild habitats to a more whole state.

This project is working to return one of the UK’s fastest declining wild mammals back to the Hogsmill River, the water vole!  Water voles (Arvicola amphibius) are one of the UK’s most endearing and charismatic mammals, immortalised in British culture in famous tales such as The Wind and Willows. Water voles hold a special place in British hearts, and the Hogsmill has a special affinity with water voles too. Locals speak of a time only 30 years ago when these furry critters were teaming in our rivers. The famous Millais painting ‘Ophelia’ depicting the Hogsmill river was originally set to feature a water vole until art critics thought it would be mistaken for a rat. Unfortunately in more recent times, water voles were last spotted on the river in 2014 and they are now locally extinct. 

Our project has already achieved so much! We have engaged over 4,000 people in Kingston and surrounding areas, to raise the profile of these amazing animals. We have also trained over 60 local people to see the world through the beady eyes of a water vole, which enabled us to map the entire catchment to identify appropriate habitat for water voles. We have also deployed 10 mammal footprint rafts which is enabling us to monitor the mammals that are currently using the river. 

We are now preparing for the next step, the reintroduction, and we need your help! Our volunteer team remains committed and a plan has been developed for the next 18 months of work. A “vole ranger” will be appointed who will continue to support and empower the fantastic community we have involved with the project as well as coordinating the reintroduction. 

COVID-19 has seen local people engage with and appreciate our green-spaces like never before. This project will help to inspire more people about the incredible natural world on our doorstep, improve the ecological health of the river and make it an even more magical place for people to enjoy. 

Our project will bring this species back to this beautiful river where it was once found, as part of our mission to rewild our future!


This project offers rewards in return for your donation.

£20 or more

Water Vole Guardian Certificate

A digital certificate with your name on it showing your support for the project as one of the newest members of the Water Vole Guardians!

£10 or more

Your Name On Project Thank You Page

As a thank you for your kind support, we'll include your name on our dedicated water vole guardian webpage on our site!

£50 or more

Water Vole Guardian T-Shirt & Bag

Digital Water Vole Guardian certificate, a gorgeous water vole bag, and a water vole t-shirt!

£100 or more

0 of 300 claimed

Name a Water Vole & Get A Bag!

Digital Water Vole Guardian certificate, a gorgeous water vole bag, and the chance to name one of the released water voles after you, your friends or loved ones or another name of your choice!

£1,000 or more

Private Guided Tour of Project + Other Goodies

Digital Water Vole Guardian certificate, a gorgeous water vole bag, four water vole t-shirts for friends and family, water vole named after you or name of your choice, and an in-person talk about the project and tour of the Hogsmill with our water vole project team.

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