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Zoo reveals 150,000 pounds of new projects

Zoo reveals 150,000 pounds of new projects

FINANCES may be tight but two of South Devon's wildlife charities are planning to spend more than £150,000 this year to help boost their own conservation dreams and tourism.

Paignton Zoo and Living Coasts in Torquay have plans for 2009 which include new buildings, exhibits and species, and a major conference.
A zoo spokesman said: "We are investing in conservation and tourism in Torbay. We believe we need to invest in tourism, and when times are tough it is even more important.

"It is not the amount of money we spend but how we spend it. These are relatively small amounts of money but these are important exhibits."

The zoo is to convert an educational building, at cost of £40,000, into an amphibian ark for endangered species, and as part of an international campaign about the land-living cold-blooded vertebrates which breed in water including frogs, toads and salamanders.

Many amphibian species across the world are said to be facing extinction.
A zoo spokesman said: "It has been said the amphibian extinction crisis is the greatest species conservation challenge in the history of humanity."

With the new £1.5million Baboon Rock still at the planning stage, the only construction projects at Paignton Zoo will be relatively modest.
A new £20,000 zebra house and £6,000 exhibit to display a carnivorous species known as a bearcat are planned.

A £4,000 enclosure will be added to the £1.1million Monkey Heights to house a mixed exhibit of white-faced saki monkeys, Goeldi monkeys and pygmy marmosets.

A species of small mongoose from the forests of West Africa, and brush tailed porcupines are coming from Shaldon Wildlife Trust and will go into a converted exhibit that should be open by half term.

This will be on the site of the old penguin pool, more recently used for water voles from a native species project. The zoo has had both species before though not recently.

Zoo chief Simon Tonge said: "Economically, it is likely to be a tough year, but we know we offer our visitors value for money at both sites as the last two years have been record-breaking ones for visitor numbers.

"It will also be another year of extreme pressure on fragile habitats and endangered species both around the world and here at home.

"Conservation could well suffer in the economic downturn but we will continue to do everything we can as a charity to support conservation work at home and abroad."

The zoo is hosting a major animal welfare conference, the ninth International Conference on Environmental Enrichment, due to take place at the Riviera Centre, Torquay in June with 400 to 500 delegates expected to attend.

Zoo gardeners are to revamp the visitor car park, Reptile Tropics is being planted with species of economic value; and an Asian forest theme created around the tiger enclosure.

Living Coasts is to unveil the next stage of its £1million underground development.
It due to be home to new species, to including sea-horses, in a £40,000 local cost exhibit.

The decision is due to be announced soon.

Story Courtesy of Herald Express Monday 2nd February 2009

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