By Tyler Riddin
The animals of the East London Zoo received the first boost to their normal food supply yesterday when the Pick n Pay Greenfields franchise delivered bakkie loads of produce at 11am.
The franchise delivered R2500 worth of ripe fruits and vegetables, as well as past sell-by-date produce for the animals and 200kg of crushed maize for the birds at the zoo.
This comes after Suzanne Ackerman-Berman, transformation director at Pick n Pay said that she “felt the East London Zoo was one of the beneficiaries that needed our help”.
Siani Tilney, acting senior manager marine and zoological services, said: “We’ll be accepting the delivery today but before accepting more we will be sitting with them [Pick n Pay] to plan a constructive and sustainable system of donations.
“We are happy to accept more. We just need to meet with them so as to structure a way forward with regards to what the zoo needs are and what they have to offer, correct storage, shelf life, delivery quantities and dates.
“The zoo has a dedicated food budget and structured diets for each animal and the donations will fit into this programme. We are grateful and it will supplement our existing feeding system and allow us to redirect resources to other areas within the zoo.”
“However, this needs to be structured so that food is managed correctly and not wasted.”
Tilney said that the freed up funds would be redirected to other “operational expenses” such as signage, medical expenses, general supplies and materials.
This help for the animals of Buffalo City Metro’s zoo is the result of a petition lodged at the weekend on change.org to remove them and close the zoo.
The petition came to the attention of animal activists Neil Ovens of AID 4 SA, and Lionel de Lange, CEO of the Lawrence Anthony Earth Organisation Ukraine, who struck a deal with Pick n Pay.
Pictures of the zoo’s mother-and-daughter bears, known as Gina and Jenny respectively, posted on Facebook, along with a link to the petition evoked high emotion, especially a picture of one of the bears with its mouth open, showing rotting teeth.
By late yesterday the petition had garnered 21495 signatures.