Paignton Zoo and Living Coasts, Torquay’s coastal zoo, are taking part in Love Your Zoo, an event which aims to encourage people to visit their local zoos to learn more about the work of these conservation charities.
The week has been organised by BIAZA, the British & Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which represents 100 of the country’s top zoos and aquariums.
The Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust runs Paignton Zoo, Living Coasts in Torquay and Newquay Zoo in Cornwall. The charity also looks after two local nature reserves – Primley Park and Clennon Gorge – and owns Slapton Ley National Nature Reserve in South Devon.
The charity employs a team of scientists and conservationists working both in the UK and overseas. Staff, students and volunteers are involved in research projects, education programmes and the conservation of species and habitats around the world.
Thousands of children visit the two sites every year on organised school visits.
In the UK the Trust is involved with common dormice, biodiversity in Torbay, cirl buntings in Cornwall and research into rare whitebeam trees in Devon.
Overseas the Trust’s three zoos work in or make donations to projects in Brazil, Colombia, Vietnam, the Philippines, South Africa, Kenya, Malawi, Mexico, Nigeria, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Sulawesi. The Trust awards small grants to students, supports the annual conservation campaigns run by EAZA, the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria and is part of the Birdlife Preventing Extinctions programme.
In all the Trust spends nearly a quarter of a million pounds a year on conservation.
Paignton Zoo director of marketing Pippa Craddock said: “BIAZA membership guarantees a high standard – it’s a mark of quality. Zoos have a long history as part of the community. Local people have visited, worked at and read about Paignton Zoo for nearly 90 years.
“Zoos are unique in that they offer people a great day out AND contribute money and expertise to conservation projects both at home and abroad. Zoos are tourist attractions that generate much-needed conservation cash.”
In 2010, 25 million people (more than a third of the UK population) visited BIAZA zoos and aquariums and more than 1,200,000 of these do so on an educational visit. Over 600 research projects are carried out and BIAZA members support over 700 field conservation projects contributing over £11 million per year.
Visitors to Paignton Zoo during the week can leave comments about why they love their zoo and which is their favourite animal. Their details will be entered into a competition to win a prize. Paignton Zoo Environmental Park is a registered charity. For more information go to www.paigntonzoo.org.uk or ring 01803 697500.