A HERD of goats has been returned to a museum where they were being used to clear vegetation – four months after they escaped.
The 25 goats were taken away from the Explosion! museum at Priddy’s Hard in Gosport, just days after their arrival last November.
It was initially thought the goats had found a hole in the fence to make their escape bid.
But it was later discovered that the animals had simply been able to squeeze between the bars in the fence.
Now to prevent any further escapes more than a mile of mesh has been added to the perimeter fence, and a new batch of 15 goats has been brought in.
Marc Farrance, the museum’s visitor services officer, said: ‘They were brought back from their home at Longdown Activity Farm in the New Forest on Wednesday afternoon and they seem to be settling in well.
‘They’re not the same goats, they’re a little bit older than the ones we had in before.
‘Those ones spent a few days in their shelter when they first arrived, but these ones are out and about already.
‘They’ve been straight back into tucking into the brambles and the ivy on the ramparts – there’s a wide variety of vegetation for them to choose from out there.’
The goats – famed for their ability to eat almost anything – were introduced to the 10-acre site last November as an innovative way to stop the area from becoming overgrown.
Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust, which owns the museum site, has been battling the encroaching bushes and weeds that are choking the scheduled ancient monument.
‘Hopefully we’ve now got the ideal solution in place with the goats,’ said Mr Farrance.
‘We’ve started off with a smaller number this time, but over time if it goes well we’ll go back up to 25 and maybe eventually have as many as 50 here.’
The trust is planning to keep goats on the site throughout spring and summer, returning them to the farm in the winter months.
‘If it goes well we’re hoping we can provide a couple of family sessions where the public can interact with them,’ he said.
‘They’re very popular with the public.’
The ramparts date from the early 1700s, when Charles II ordered the construction of earthworks along the Gosport shoreline to defend Portsmouth Dockyard and the harbour.