West Midland Safari Park are celebrating the success of conservation efforts during 2017 and are incredibly proud of the money raised to support various animal charities.
Through staff and guest efforts, the Park has raised a staggering total of over £15,000, which will be split between animal charities and projects chosen for the vital work they do in conserving some of the most threatened species in the world.
Keepers were at the forefront of fundraising in carrying out a variety of energetic and often thrill-seeking activities to raise as much money as possible. From static cycling in the Park and racing for rhinos in the Birmingham Velo, to running the Great Birmingham Run and bravely bungee jumping in aid of bats. One member of staff, Park Electrician Colin Mclarty, even ran the London Marathon to support Rhino Week!
Supporting the fundraising initiatives, local artist Zaza Shelley created beautiful limited edition prints of the Park’s animals. So far, the exclusive prints have raised nearly £600, which will also be donated to selected animal charities.
Zaza was delighted to be included in the events, and was invited into the Park to meet the rhinos and lemurs to capture their playful personalities and individual characteristics.
Zaza Shelley said, “I am thrilled and honoured to have had the opportunity in 2017 to support the Safari Park with fundraising for their chosen conservation charities. I was allowed access to the Park to draw, photograph and paint the animals, which I hugely enjoyed.”
She continued, “Unexpectedly, I enjoyed the bats so much more than I imagined I would. They are such inquisitive little creatures; I imagined them to be twitchy, flighty and nervous, but instead they were steady and curious and one in particular made me laugh – he didn’t take his beady eyes off me!”
She added, “Assisting the Safari Park with their conservation projects has really heightened my own awareness of conservation and the fundamental importance for these animals to be protected in the wild if they are to have any future at all.”
Every year since 2014, the Park’s Wildlife Team choose conservation charities and a special week is set aside in the Park’s busy calendar to focus solely on each campaign. Throughout 2017, the Park has held six Conservation Weeks for different animal species – Lemur Week in March, Bat Week in May, Rhino Week and Protect Lions Week in June, Wildlife Awareness Week in July and Conservation Dogs week in September – each one proving to be very successful.
Research and Conservation Officer, Katie McDonald said, “Since we started our big conservation drive in 2014, we have raised over £50,000 for causes that urgently need funds to conserve wild populations of animals related to those we hold at the Park.”
She continued, “Staff put a great deal of effort into engaging our guests on the conservation topics we are championing. The more people who understand the threats to wild animals and their habitats, the more progress we can make in preventing species declines.”!
This year saw the birth of the second southern white rhino in 10 years – baby Fahari – who was born on 8 September to mum, Keyah. Staff were extremely excited about the new arrival as there is an ever-increasing threat to wild rhino; Fahari is very important to ensure that this beautiful species continues. Funds raised during May half term were donated to Save The Rhino International (SRI), who support endangered rhinos in Africa and Asia.
Conservation Dogs was added to the calendar for September and aimed to raise awareness for dogs that play a vital part in protecting and conserving threatened rhinos and cheetahs in Africa. The dogs are used by SRI to track and disarm rhino poachers, therefore supporting the efforts in reducing the amount of rhino deaths in the wild.
The Park have previously sponsored their very own livestock guarding dog, who is named after their Managing Director – Ivan. He is one of the many dogs placed by the Cheetah Outreach Trust to protect livestock from wild cheetahs, so that farmers no longer need to kill cheetah and other predators in order to save their own animals.
The lemurs, bats, rhinos, lions and cheetahs can all be seen in the four-mile safari, Discovery Trail and African Village, which is included in the standard admission charge of £20.00 for adults, £15.00 for children aged 3-15 and £18.00 for concessions. Admission includes a voucher for a return visit or safari gift. The Adventure Theme Park is closed during the winter and Santa Safari is charged extra.
Further information and tickets are available from the Park’s website www.wmsp.co.uk or by telephone 01299 402114. You can find out more on the Safari Park’s official Facebook page: www.facebook.com/WestMidSafari
Zaza Shelley’s prints can be purchased from www.zazashelley.com