The plight of Paignton Zoo has been at the forefront of concerns for many people in Torbay, particularly the younger generation who have come to consider the zoo as a key part of their childhood.

Save Paignton ZooSave Paignton Zoo

One nine year old from Torquay decided the best way to help the zoo would be to combine his flair for art with a fundraising campaign.

So Ralph Carlberg, who attends Ilsham Academy, has been drawing big cats to raise money for the zoo.

“Ralph had heard about the zoo struggling and the animals needing help,” said mum Carrie Carlberg.

“He loves drawing anyway, and loves drawing animals, so he decided to draw some pictures of big cats: lions, tigers, jaguars, the whole lot.

“He asked me to convert his drawings into posters and we put it on social media. Things quickly went a bit crazy, with loads of people donating and buying his pictures. We ended up delivering them to people most weekends.

“The thrill for Ralph to actually make some money from his drawings was amazing. Once a few of them had sold, it sent him on a bit of a mission and he had people requesting different types of animals.

“He was constantly drawing new things and it kept him really entertained through lockdown. He managed to raise just over £1,000 for the zoo, which was so much more than we could have ever imagined.”

Not only does Ralph have human supporters of his artistic talent but the subject matter also had an opinion.

“I had a message from the zoo and they were very grateful,” added Carrie.

“They even put his lion picture in with the lions and then sent us a video of the picture tied to a tree, with the lions growling at it.

“Paignton Zoo is massively important to our community. When Ralph was young, we had a season pass and we’ve been there so many times, with a different experience on each occasion because they always have different events.”