Coronavirus: Locals help Lakeland Wildlife Oasis weather lockdown

  • Published
Neil Cook and a monkeyImage source, Lakeland Wildlife Oasis
Image caption,
The keepers are remaining hands-on with their charges

A small zoo and conservation charity is relying on help from the public to keep it running during lockdown.

Lakeland Wildlife Oasis, near Milnthorpe, Cumbria, needs £10,000 a month to keep going and got most of that from visitors before it closed.

It launched a crowdfunding appeal which prompted an "amazing" response.

Local supermarkets have also dropping off spare fruit and vegetables, freeing up cash to buy meat for animals "which can't get by on broccoli".

Image source, Lakeland Wildlife Oasis
Image caption,
There are hopes lockdown will lead to romance for hairy armadillo pair Tank and Nessa

Staff at the attraction have been furloughed, apart from the manager and two keepers who have taken a voluntary drop in wages.

A spokeswoman for the attraction described it as a small family unit, and "very hands-on".

"We're what you might call a half-day destination, rather than a full day out, and 81% of our visitors are local", she said.

Image source, Lakeland Wildlife Oasis
Image caption,
Supermarkets have been donating supplies of fruit and vegetables

"We've had amazing support from locals - we are on the A6 so a lot of people pass on the way to do their essential shopping, and have been dropping stuff off at the entrance.

"One woman even banged on the window of the office shouting 'I've only got cash, I don't do all that PayPal malarkey', and left an envelope containing £10.

"And the local Tesco and Morrisons have been great giving us fruit and veg so we can concentrate on buying meat for the snow leopards, which obviously can't be doing with broccoli."

Image source, Lakeland Wildlife Oasis
Image caption,
Holly the meerkat celebrated her birthday during lockdown with a cake made of worms

One of the attractions is a walk-through lemur enclosure and the animals have been missing public attention, so remaining staff have been working to keep them engaged.

The resident pair of hairy armadillos, Tank and Nessa, are being trained to navigate a mini assault course, using meal worms as a reward, to keep them fit and amused.

Image source, Lakeland Wildlife Oasis
Image caption,
The hairy armadillos are learning to navigate a "mini assault course"

Jack Williams, the manager said: "We're very lucky to share lockdown with exotic animals from all over the world but looking after 100 species with a skeleton team is quite exhausting.

"We're keeping motivated by renovating animal enclosures, enriching and training our animals, and through engaging online with our followers."

Related Internet Links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.