Staff from West Midland Safari Park donned a variety of fancy dress costumes and regalia during a recent Fun Run and despite the awful weather conditions raised £2000 for animals in the wild that are facing extinction.
Of the 29 contestants, Oli Butler – who works in the Food & Beverage department – ran the fastest time (6.48mins). Rich Arnold – from the Leisure Area – leaped into the lead and won the prize for the best costume whilst Kathleen Glover from the Learning Department ran away with the prize for the most sponsorship raised by an individual totaling £600.
The 1.6km cross-country route took runners around some of the Park grounds that form part of the Devil’s Spittleful – an area designated as a site of special scientific interest. The area is particularly special as it is usually closed to the general public and on this occasion spectators were able to catch a rare glimpse of this part of the lowland heath site, which is being cared for by Park staff with the help of a grant from Natural England.
The event, which was organized by Katie McDonald, the Park’s Research and Conservation Officer, is poignant for West Midland Safari Park as some of the animals that live at the Park are from the group of animals that face a real possibility of extinction in the wild, namely the critically endangered Sumatran Tiger and endangered Dhole.
Katie said, “The Park is a member of the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA) and every year EAZA raises funds and awareness for an important conservation campaign. This year, the focus is on animals (those over 1kg) in South East Asia. So rapid is the decline in many species, without immediate action animals such as the Philippine Spotted Deer will disappear from the wild forever. The run was an opportunity for staff to show their commitment to conservation at the same time as having fun”.
Staff from the animal reserves also raised £510.00 by organising an open evening at the Indian Rhino House. Further efforts that included collecting donations from visitors’ following sea lion shows, organizing sweepstakes for various sporting events and face painting raised a further £1041.97. The total amount raised for animals in the wild facing extinction is £3551.97, exceeding the pledge to raise £2000.00 by £1551.97, to the delight of the staff.
West Midland Safari Park is open daily until 2nd November 2012. The standard admission charge is £14.99 for adults, £12.99 for children. Admission prices also include a free return ticket. Amusement rides charged extra in all cases.