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15 Jun 2020

Winner of the Scottish Animal World Cup revealed

We saw an otterly thrilling final in the first-ever World Cup of Scottish animals!

After 11 weeks of hard-fought competition, with almost 60,000 votes cast in 31 rounds, the first-ever Scottish Animal World Cup came to a thrilling close today with the crowning of the nation’s favourite.

Our World Cup-style competition saw 32 Scottish animals from land, sea and air vie with each other in a series of head-to-head social media polls to take the title of Scotland’s favourite animal.

The final began last Wednesday and saw the Scottish wildcat take on the otter for the public’s affections. The Scottish wildcat – sometimes seen in the grounds of Crathes Castle, Drum Castle or Leith Hall in Aberdeenshire – went into the bout as the favourite, having amassed the most votes up to that point.

The ferocious feline took an early lead but, as voting went on, the otter steadily caught up. In the end, once votes were tallied up from all the Trust’s social media channels, the otter was revealed as the winner with an impressive 56% of the final vote.

Regularly seen at Inverewe in Ross-shire, the otter features in the list of Scotland’s ‘Big Five’ animals, which also include the golden eagle, red deer, red squirrel and harbour seal. The otter almost didn’t make the final, only beating the Highland cow in the semi-final last week by seven votes, the narrowest win in the whole competition!

The Scottish wildcat was a worthy finalist, and the Trust is involved in a number of key projects to help protect this beautiful creature from extinction. We’re a key partner in Scottish Wildcat Action, working to raise awareness of the risks these felines face. We also keep a close eye on our trail cameras for any signs of these shy and nocturnal animals.

A grid of colour photographs, showing the 32 creatures that took part in the Scottish Animal World Cup.

Having assigned our gold and silver medals, it wouldn’t be a true World Cup without a couple more awards to give out as well.

  • Golden paw (going to the animal that won a round by the largest amount) – the red squirrel (beat the feral goat in Round 1 by 1,384 votes, and stayed in all the way to the semi-finals, eventually defeated by the wildcat)
  • Golden tail (going to the animal that won the most votes over all the rounds) – the Scottish wildcat
  • Golden wing (going to the creature that got through on the narrowest of margins – what a save!) – the otter, who beat the Highland cow to secure its place in the final by just 7 votes! (although mention must also go to the golden eagle, who beat the pine marten in Round 2 by just 39 votes)
  • Fair play trophy (going to the creature that suffered a disappointingly early defeat but is still a magnificent champion for Scottish wildlife) – the Atlantic puffin (the largest colony of Atlantic puffins in Europe can be found at St Kilda. 20% of Scotland’s seabirds nest at Trust coastal places or islands, and we work hard to protect these vulnerable habitats.)
  • Wooden spoon (going to the creature that received the fewest votes) – the northern fulmar (but check out our mini profiles to see why we love this seabird so much!)
A wildcat sits on a log in a wood. It has a grey, stripy coat.
Scottish wildcat, our magnificent runner-up

Stuart Brooks, Head of Conservation and Policy at the National Trust for Scotland said: ‘A massive part of what we do is looking after Scotland’s natural treasures. We’ve got over 76,000 hectares of countryside that we care for, including eight National Nature Reserves and 27 sites that are recognised as being vital to internationally important nature conservation efforts.

‘The 32 animals that we picked for the Scottish Animal World Cup represent just a few of the thousands of species that we’re responsible for. The otter might have won the vote as Scotland’s favourite animal but we love all of them, right down to the northern fulmar. The plucky seabird might have got knocked out in round one against the pine marten and received the fewest votes overall, but it’s important to us too.

‘The Trust exists to protect everything that makes this country so special, but right now we’re having trouble doing that. This year we’re expecting to lose £28 million in income because of coronavirus. The fact that almost 60,000 votes were cast in the Scottish Animal World Cup shows that people really do care for our unique country, and that passion is a great boost for our future.’

You can find out more about the 32 participants and some examples of the work we carry out to protect them at our Scottish Animal World Cup page.

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