Puffin left off list of best-loved animals

Bosses at the Scottish Seabird Centre are in a flap after an iconic bird was snubbed from a list of country’s best loved animals.

The People’s Big Five was drawn up by Scottish Natural Heritage and VisitScotland as part of efforts to showcase the country’s favourite wildlife and features the otter, red deer, harbour seal, red squirrel and golden eagle.

But the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick has described the decision not to include puffins as “crazy” and is inviting the public to vote in its own unofficial list.

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Tom Brock, chief executive of the centre, said: “We just think it’s crazy such magical, colourful birds have been missed out of the Big Five.

“We know just how popular the puffin is, from people visiting the centre both from Scotland and internationally.

“For people to see puffins when they are out on a boat is a really special experience. They’re such a magical birds and so colourful.”

The public have been asked to vote for one of the five – or to pick another Scottish animal – to feature in a £350,000 advertising campaign as part of the Year of Natural Scotland.

The most popular five will be advertised on billboards across the UK and backed by publicity on the radio, in newspapers and online.

Mr Brock said: “We want to highlight that the birds have been really struggling lately for a number of reasons.”

Scotland is home to 45 per cent of all of Europe’s seabirds.

SNH spokesperson Calum MacFarlane said: “It wasn’t an easy job choosing the Big Five, so we’re keen to hear other people’s favourites. We have quite a lot of puffin fans at SNH as well, and we’re delighted that the Seabird Centre is livening up the discussion.”

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A VisitScotland spokesman said: “The omission of puffins from the Big Five seems to have certainly ruffled a few feathers with our friends at the Scottish Seabird Centre. The initiative was always intended to provoke discussion and we’re glad that they decided to be so vocal about it, and why shouldn’t they be?

Fans of puffins are more than welcome to join in the vote by selecting it in the other category on our website.”