Zoo-perb ef­fort to save an­i­mal

Hamilton Advertiser - - NEWS -

A Hamil­ton zookeeper is on a mis­sion to raise aware­ness of one very en­dan­gered crea­ture – the pan­golin.

Natalie Martin, a head keeper at Calder­glen Zoo in East Kil­bride, is pre­par­ing to head off to the Lao Con­ser­va­tion Trust for Wildlife in Laos, South­east Asia, where she will spend a month vol­un­teer­ing and de­vel­op­ing con­ser­va­tion links.

The Lao Con­ser­va­tion Trust for Wildlife cur­rently care for the pan­golin – one of the most traf­ficked mam­mals on the planet – by res­cu­ing them from the il­le­gal wildlife trade, re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing them and re­leas­ing them back into the wild.

They also work to de­velop a re­spect for wildlife in lo­cal peo­ple by ed­u­cat­ing them about car­ing for an­i­mals.

Natalie (27) ex­plained: “Calder­glen Zoo is con­stantly striv­ing to de­velop our con­ser­va­tion links so this is a fan­tas­tic pro­ject for us to be in­volved with.

“The staff at Lao Con­ser­va­tion Trust for Wildlife and I feel we can learn a lot from each other and are ex­cited about the fu­ture.”

The Lao Con­ser­va­tion Trust for Wildlife cares for bears, pre­vi­ously kept in tiny cages as pets, an ele­phant who was ne­glected by its orig­i­nal own­ers, pan­golins res­cued from the il­le­gal wildlife trade, mon­keys saved from the ex­otic pet trade, and civets res­cued from the cruel cof­fee trade.

All an­i­mals who can be re­leased back into the wild are, but any an­i­mals who can­not be re­leased due to their his­tory live out the rest of their days at the cen­tre re­ceiv­ing the best wel­fare pos­si­ble.

Natalie, who was re­cently pro­moted at Calder­glen Zoo, added: “Among other things whilst there I will be tend­ing to the an­i­mals at the cen­tre through feed­ing them, pro­vid­ing en­rich­ment to keep the an­i­mals stim­u­lated and build­ing new en­clo­sures for any fu­ture res­cues from the il­le­gal wildlife trade.

“The trip is com­pletely self-funded so I have set up a Go Fund Me page (go on­line to www.gofundme.com/ help-sup­port-the-pan­golins) to help the cen­tre and any money raised will in­deed go di­rectly to­wards the an­i­mals’ wel­fare.”

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