Cathy Oetegenn

Giving the shirts off their backs

Posted: 15th August, 2018

Three zoos in the South West are recycling old uniforms to help hard-pressed conservationists across Africa.

Paignton Zoo Environmental Park, Living Coasts in Torquay and Newquay Zoo in Cornwall are donating uniforms to PASA, the Pan-African Sanctuary Alliance, the largest association of wildlife centres in Africa; 23 member organisations in 13 countries working to secure a future for Africa’s primates and their habitat.

Volunteers at Paignton Zoo, headed up by volunteer seamstress Nikki Stewart, are sewing over the logos and preparing the clothes for shipping. The items include polo shirts, sweatshirts, fleeces, waterproof coats, trousers and hats.

Paignton Zoo mammal keeper Gemma Keohane, who is organising the donation, said: “I'm very excited to have the chance to play my small part, I know how much difference the uniform will make, it’s so worthwhile. I've not had a chance to count the mountain of clothing yet, but I imagine it will be around 150 items.”

Zoo spokesperson Phil Knowling added: “Recycling old uniforms is environmentally friendly – and sending them to sanctuaries in Africa is another great way to support conservation. It means our old uniforms have a second life!”

The zoos are paying for the boxes to be shipped and it is thought it will take a month for the uniform to arrive in Sierra Leone by boat.

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