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Visitors to Bristol Zoo Gardens now have the chance to encounter some real heroes.
They are conservation heroes drawn from all walks of life and they will be appearing at the Zoo throughout half-term.
Visitors will be able to follow a trail around the site to find life-size cut-outs of five zoo staff who have contributed to conservation projects all over the world.
Next to their pictures will be details of the projects they support, which vary from helping rescue toads to caring for critically endangered spiders and flightless birds.
Volunteers will be on hand at the zoo each morning to talk about the heroes and answer questions about their work.
The trail is part of our year-long celebration of the efforts made by conservation heroes at the zoo, and in society, and shows how we can save wildlife together.
Visitors can look for Bristol Zoo Education Officer Amy Bye who takes part in toad patrols on wet winter and spring evenings.
Armed with just a torch and a plastic bucket she rescued migrating toads from busy roads around Bristol and takes them to their breeding ponds.
Animal keeper Shani Ratnayake went far further afield to the Philippines to improve the welfare of Critically Endangered Visayan warty pigs.
Vet Sara Shopland also travelled to the other side of the globe – in her case to New Zealand. Sara flew there on an emergency mission to test and treat Critically Endangered flightless parrots.
Nearer to home bug and aquarium keeper Nicola Cooke ran an ultramarathon – that is 44 miles – to raise money for the Avon Gorge and Downs Wildlife Project.
The money helps to fund the project’s education programme in which more than 127,000 people have taken part since its inception in 2002.
And Carmen Solan, a keeper in the Zoo’s Bug World team, has helped to breed and care for Critically Endangered Desertas wolf spiders.
She was involved in breeding these spiders for the first time in captivity and helping to secure their future.
Rebecca Cole, Exhibit and Public Programme Development Manager, said: “We are really excited about launching our celebration of conservation heroes.
“They may not be household names but they are real heroes because their contributions have helped animals survive who may otherwise have perished.
“Conservation is such an important part of our work here at the Zoo. We are currently involved in 14 conservation projects in 10 countries.”
Staff from the Zoo travel to countries far and wide to help with these projects. They are currently working to help secure the future of western lowland gorillas in Equatorial Guinea. Another project is focused on conserving giraffe in Cameroon whose numbers have fallen dramatically in recent years.
During the coming months Bristol Zoo Gardens will be featuring more life-size cut-outs of other conservation heroes. Rebecca said: “We want everyone to know what they do and to celebrate the difference they make.”
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