AN­I­MAL AN­TICS:

COM­MU­NITY CALLED TO FIGHT ZOO’S PLIGHT

Go! & Express - - Front Page - MADELEINE CHA­PUT

FOL­LOW­ING the neg­a­tiv­ity sur­round­ing the East Lon­don Zoo, lo­cal an­i­mal lover Robyn Krugel is de­ter­mined not to let its state and rep­u­ta­tion de­te­ri­o­rate any fur­ther.

Un­der at­tack for an­i­mal cru­elty charges, zoo man­ager Ali­son Roux and her team hope for the zoo to emerge from the court case pos­i­tively and move for­ward, de­spite var­i­ous lim­i­ta­tions.

“One of our great­est chal­lenges is hav­ing to func­tion within sys­tems that are not con­ducive to the run­ning of a live an­i­mal fa­cil­ity,” said Roux.

“There is a lack of un­der­stand­ing of the way in which a zoo needs to func­tion and there are many re­quire­ments and time lim­i­ta­tions that are not be­ing met be­cause of the lengthy pro­ce­dures re­quired by lo­cal gov­ern­ment.”

“De­spite the dire ur­gency of some mat­ters, re­quests of­ten take lengthy pe­ri­ods to be pro­cessed,” she said.

Roux also in­di­cated the zoo's in­fra­struc­ture is out­dated, but it would cost more than R100-mil­lion to build new en­clo­sures, whereas only a to­tal of R2.3-mil­lion has been bud­geted by Buf­falo City Mu­nic­i­pal­ity (BCM) for im­prove­ments.

Krugel, along with Roux, have joined forces in the hope of en­cour­ag­ing the com­mu­nity to take own­er­ship and be­come more in­volved in the zoo's main­te­nance and man­age­ment.

“I re­ally be­lieve this zoo is very spe­cial and I want to urge com­mu­nity mem­bers to ac­tively sup­port it. We can't just sit here and watch, we need to do some­thing. The zoo be­longs to all of us and we need to take own­er­ship,” Krugel said.

Krugel aims to help the non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion leg of the East Lon­don Zoo, known as the Friends of the East Lon­don Zoo (Fel­zoo), es­tab­lish and run var­i­ous fundrais­ing cam­paigns and events.

First on Krugel's list is a Christ­mas at the Zoo Mar­ket Day early next month where kid­dies Christ­mas cel­e­bra­tions and an­i­mal en­rich­ment pro­grammes will also run through­out the day.

Var­i­ous events are in the pipe­line for next year, in­clud­ing a Na­tional Zoo Day cel­e­bra­tion in April.

The zoo also has five ma­jor main­te­nance projects for the up­com­ing fi­nan­cial year, in­clud­ing the im­prove­ment of the zoo's perime­ter fence, pri­mate en­clo­sure, iguana en­clo­sure and Sungazer ex­hibit, as well as the re-fenc­ing of the wild dogs’ en­clo­sure.

“The best we can do is to im­prove the facilities we al­ready have and we're try­ing our hard­est to get that done as soon as pos­si­ble for the well-be­ing of our an­i­mals. Cur­rently I'm still wait­ing for the re­sults of the ten­der process in or­der to start im­prove­ments on our pri­mate en­clo­sure,” said Roux.

The SPCA also re­cently re-vis­ited the East Lon­don Zoo and have in­di­cated to Roux and her team that there are no ma­jor is­sues hin­der­ing the well-be­ing of the an­i­mals in their care.

“I have great re­spect for Ali­son. Run­ning the zoo un­der these cir­cum­stances seems im­pos­si­ble, yet she car­ries on. The bond she has with the an­i­mals is truly amaz­ing and I re­ally hope that to­gether we can get the com­mu­nity in­volved dur­ing this dif­fi­cult time,” said Krugel.

For more in­for­ma­tion on how to sup­port the zoo or the Christ­mas at the Zoo Mar­ket Day, con­tact Krugel at robyn@isq.co.za or Fel­zoo di­rectly at fel­zoo@el-zoo.co.za

Pic­ture: MADELEINE CHA­PUT

FOXY AM­BAS­SADOR FOR COUSINS IN THE WILD: Zoo man­ager Ali­son Roux pic­tured with one of the six-week-old fox pups she has hand-reared since birth

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