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Zoo team praise ‘overwhelming’ donations after tireless efforts during lockdown

PUBLISHED: 06:30 31 May 2020

Emily Payne, trainee keper at Africa Alive. PHOTO: Jessica Daniels.

Emily Payne, trainee keper at Africa Alive. PHOTO: Jessica Daniels.

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Staff at one of the regions most loved days out have been working hard to ensure the park’s animals are looked after while the nation remains in lockdown.

Haylee Parker, head keeper with male white rhino at Africa Alive. PHOTO: Jessica DanielsHaylee Parker, head keeper with male white rhino at Africa Alive. PHOTO: Jessica Daniels

Africa Alive was forced to shut their doors during the coronavirus pandemic but, unlike some other tourist hotspots and businesses, work cannot stop, with staff on hand to feed and care for over 80 species of animal every day.

After turning to the public for help, the zoo’s managing director Gary Batters said he has been “absolutely overwhelmed by the support.”

He said: “It’s not just cash donations, but people offering animal feed to us, and bedding and hay.

“It’s all the things we need, and it has been really nice.

Amy Reeve with the Somali Wild Ass at Africa Alive. PHOTO: Jessica DanielsAmy Reeve with the Somali Wild Ass at Africa Alive. PHOTO: Jessica Daniels

“We have also had donations of cakes for the keepers, and that’s been very welcome as they are all working very hard.”

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The team working at Arica Alive has almost halved during this time, leaving 10 keepers split into two groups, one based at the top of the park and the other at the bottom.

Mr Batters explained the day-to-day operations start with “a temperature check and a brief conversation to make sure they are all fit and healthy. Then out onto the ground to do their normal feeding and cleaning work.”

Reticulated giraffe at Africa Alive. PHOTO: Jessica DanielsReticulated giraffe at Africa Alive. PHOTO: Jessica Daniels

The Keepers have been working especially hard to maintain the high standards of animal welfare in the park while having minimal staff.

The animals may not be missing human contact but “it is an unusual situation for them, far from their normal routine, and awfully quiet,” said Mr Batters.

Although there are no plans yet on when and how the 100-acre park will reopen, it can still be a place of learning, with staff taking to Twitter to share regular updates on the animals, with videos and quizzes available.

Their website also boasts a wealth of knowledge with fact files on every animal at the park, while a similar resourse is available for their sister park at Banham Zoo.

It costs £25,000 a week to fed and maintain the animals and the park are asking for the public’s help in many ways, but donating money via the ‘Argent Appeal’ tab, by sponsoring an animal or keeper and donating to a specific animal, an example being ‘feeding a cheetah for a day’.


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