27 February 2019
Lisa Berry, a BSc Hons Applied Zoology student, decided she had to do something in order to help out at her local zoo after hearing of the break in and damage caused by the theft of a mini digger. Thieves broke in to the Exotic Zoo at the Lakeside Plant Centre in Priorslee overnight between Monday 11th and Tuesday 12th February. Lisa suggested volunteering to others on her course and they were immediately keen to offer their help.
Fortunately none of the animals were harmed during the break in, however damage was caused to fences and gates just days before the zoo was due to reopen for half term. Work had been taking place to make the zoo more accessible by adding disabled friendly paths as well as improvements to enclosures.
Lisa had noticed that a Go Fund Me page had been set up in order to raise funds for the repairs however she wanted to do something other than just raising money. The course representative organised transport for her and her fellow students to and from the zoo on both of the two days where they helped clean up the damage and improve the animals’ enclosures. Their work included planting new plants, providing enrichment in enclosures as well as cleaning glass and painting fences. They also re-vamped the rabbit enclosure making it suitable for small children as the zoo offers various hands on experiences. Around 8 students attended on each of the days.
Lisa said, “It was a natural decision wanting to help. With it being within my community, I wanted to give something back.”
Lisa was familiar with the zoo as she had previously volunteered there a number of years ago where she would help care for the animals.
“With so much bad stuff going on in the area, I feel we need to pull together as a community.”
Lisa has since been in talks with management at the zoo to start a weekly volunteering programme for her course. This will not only enable students to get some additional contact time with animals but will also provide some support to the staff at the zoo, a number of whom are volunteers themselves.