Fans save Scottish squirrels to mark K-pop rapper J-Hope’s birthday

Some of Scotland’s most iconic native wildlife is set to benefit from the generosity of fans of the South Korean boy band BTS.

South Korean rapper J-Hope, from boy band BTS, asked fans for donations to charity instead of gift for his 25th birthday. Picture: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
South Korean rapper J-Hope, from boy band BTS, asked fans for donations to charity instead of gift for his 25th birthday. Picture: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Wildlife action group Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels has received more than £600 from UK supporters in celebration of BTS rapper J-Hope’s 25th birthday.

Through the donations the fandom has ‘adopted’ 37 red squirrels, helping fund important work to help safeguard the declining species.

The move was the brainchild of fan Lisa Ireland, a 20-year-old studying languages at the University of St Andrews.

UK fans of J-Hope raised more than £600 to help save Scotland's native red squirrels

She says inspiration for the fund-raiser came after J-Hope requested donations to charity in place of birthday gifts and because the baby-faced performers has been likened to a “cute” squirrel.

She said: “I chose to run a project for J-Hope’s birthday because, quite simply, he’s my favourite member. In K-Pop fan terms, he’s my ‘bias’.

“It’s often said that J-Hope looks like a squirrel, especially when he eats and his cheeks puff out! I thought the idea of adopting them was so cute, and then another fan suggested we adopt them for him for his birthday and I agreed and said it was a great idea.

“I find J-Hope’s energy infectious. He’s a fantastic dancer and even inspired me to start dancing, which has become my favourite hobby.

“He really tries his best with speaking English too, and as a languages student at university I really admire his attitude towards just throwing oneself into it.

“He’s a very loving and warm person also, and the more I got to know him he more I realised I’d like to be like that too.

“He’s truly a very inspiring person in many ways.”

Scotland’s squirrels are just one of at least 35 charitable projects across the globe to benefit from J-Hope’s birthday this year.

Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels is a partnership organisation involving conservation groups, landowners and government agencies.

Rory Syme, from the Scottish Wildlife Trust, has welcomed the unexpected birthday gift to the charity.

He said: “We offer a range of animal adoptions that are a perfect way for people to help wildlife while marking a significant event like a wedding or a birthday.

“This is one of the most unusual requests we’ve ever had and we’re delighted with the response from J-Hope’s fans in the UK.

“This fantastic support will go towards work carried out by Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels, a partnership working to help ensuring that red squirrels will always be a part of Scotland’s special native wildlife.”

Native red squirrels are near-threatened in the UK.

Scotland is the UK stronghold for the species and is home to 75 per cent of the nationwide population.

Estimates suggest numbers north of the border have crashed to around 120,000, due to a variety of threats.

Seven member band BTS, also known as the Bangtan Boys, formed in 2013 and has rocketed to fame.

They have produced three multi-million-selling albums, with songs featuring recurring themes including mental health issues, the troubles of school-age youth and loss.

The group is known for having a huge social media presence, claiming the crown as the world’s most retweeted celebrities in 2017 and 2018.

They have just announced they will appear at London’s Wembley stadium later this year.