Hunstanton teenager taking on walking challenge to help support zoo animals
With zoos being able to reopen again next week following a period without regular income due to the pandemic, a West Norfolk teenager has decided to raise funds for a Norfolk attraction.
Courtney Woods-Marlton, 14, will be walking 50 miles over seven days to support Banham Zoo.
The Hunstanton resident will be starting her challenge on Monday (June 15) with the intention of helping the South Norfolk zoo, even if it's only enough to feed one animal at the site for a few days.
Her mother Kayla said: "The fundraising page was set up before the news that zoos are reopening. We are glad they are but they will have lost a lot of money over the last few months.
"Courtney has been getting up at 8am every day during the lockdown for fresh air and exercise so she thought it would be a good idea to do a fundraiser.
"She does not like to be stuck indoors, even if the weather is bad and she will sometimes come back drenched!"
The family are regular visitors to Banham Zoo and typically visit the attraction "several times" in a year.
Although the fundraising challenge will mainly take place in Hunstanton, Kayla's husband will also be driving Courtney to places such as Sandringham to add a bit of variety to the routes during the week.
The teenager has set a fundraising target of £500 and received a positive initial response from family and friends. This included a couple of anonymous donations. However, Kayla said the funds have dried up a bit after the initial surge.
If you are interested in donating to the cause, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/courtneywoods-marlton
The Prime Minister announced earlier this week that zoos and safari parks will be able to open from Monday (June 15), which coincides with Courtney's walking challenge.
South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss has been supporting Banham Zoo, which is located in her constituency, and had been lobbying ministers for the visitor attraction to be reopened.
Speaking on Wednesday, the MP said: "Today’s announcement is excellent news and will be widely welcomed.
"I have been working with parliamentary colleagues and local councils to support zoos during this extremely challenging time. Banham Zoo and Africa Alive have worked hard on appropriate social distancing and hygiene measures and last week, I made the case to DEFRA about their operational approach during Covid-19."
The Zoological Society of East Anglia, which runs Banham Zoo and Africa Alive, set up an emergency fundraising page after "a loss of income of £1.5 million" due to Covid-19.
A message on the Just Giving page says: "The devastating effects of Covid-19 have been far-reaching for our charity. Both our zoos closed their doors because of the pandemic in March and the charity is now in an emergency situation. Our zoos may be closed to the public, but our animals still need to be cared for.
"We have already experienced a loss of income of £1.5 million due to the closures. Its only a matter of time until we have no money left.
"For over 50 years our zoos have sought to amaze and inspire guests who visit, providing wonderful, memorable days and unique experiences. We cant bear the thought of closing our doors forever.
"We have been amazed by the outpouring of love and generosity from our community in the last three months and every message of support has brought some light to otherwise difficult days."