Student Lewis Rowden is going to live like a gorilla at Paignton Zoo for 24 hours to raise money for ape conservation.
Which means Lewis, who dislikes most fruit and veg, will be on a strict gorilla diet including pepper, leek, spinach, parsnip, turnip, sweet corn, cabbage, boiled potato, beetroot, banana, apple, tomato, pineapple and passion fruit.
His 24 hour sponsored camp-out on the zoo’s gorilla island is in support of the European Association of Zoos & Aquaria Ape Campaign 2011. Neil Bemment, curator of Mammals at Paignton Zoo Environmental Park, and Dr Vicky Melfi, senior research oficer for the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust, are on the six-person steering committee for the campaign. Paignton Zoo has set itself a fundraising target of £10,000.
Research placement student Lewis told the Devon Week: “I was reading about the ape campaign and wondered what I could do to raise a bit of money. I thought about becoming a human zoo exhibit for a day – after all, humans are apes, too.”
Neil said: “We don’t want to keep the gorillas indoors for too long, so we can only let Lewis stay on the island for 24 hours – but I think that might be quite long enough for him!”
Lewis is studying Zoology at Cardiff University. His 10-month placement at Paignton Zoo is part of his Professional Training Year and contributes towards his final degree. He is working on nutrition projects, including an investigation into the effect of nutrition on the growth and development of tadpoles.
“I am a bit of a fussy eater – of the vegetables, I only eat peas, potatoes, green beans and – so long as they are cooked thoroughly – carrots and pepper. In terms of fruit, I pretty much only eat Granny Smith apples, though I’m beginning to eat things like mango, grapes and some berries,” he said.
“What puts me off is mainly the texture but also the taste of things like raw carrots, mushrooms and cauliflower. There’s not much in the gorillas’ diet that I eat, so this will certainly be a challenge for me! I’m very much a carnivore and eat a lot of carbohydrates.”
Lewis will start his time on the gorilla island at 3pm on Friday, May 13 and continue into Saturday, May 14. To sponsor him, go to: www.justgiving.com/LewisJ-Rowden