As the Torbay Weekly Save Our Zoo campaign gets off the groundf, Ollie Smale, 11. is one of the first to come up with a fund-raising event to raise money.

A birthday treat for Ollie Smale and his favourite animals at Paignton ZooA birthday treat for Ollie Smale and his favourite animals at Paignton Zoo

An animal-loving 11-year-old boy is stepping out to raise money to support Paignton Zoo - to fit in neatly with the Torbay Weekly Save our Zoo campaign.

The popular tourist attraction, which reopened this week, had been struggling during the pandemic lockdown and there was uncertainty over its future.

To help out, Ollie Smale, from Kingskerswell, is doing a sponsored walk from his home to the zoo to raise money to feed the animals.

And he’ll be doing it wearing an inflatable giraffe costume - his favourite animal.

Save Paignton ZooSave Paignton Zoo

Mum Sian said: “We are so proud of him, as during lockdown he has been thinking of something he can do to support our local community.

“He’s such a caring child.”

He is fundraising through Virgin Money giving and has reached his total of £560 but would love to raise more.

Sian explained: “We found out it costs hundreds of pounds a day to feed all the animals at the zoo so he has already managed to foot the bill for some of it.”

The walk is planned for the weekend of August 1, either on Saturday or Sunday depending on the weather.

Ollie said: “The zoo works so hard to help towards the conservation of some of the most endangered animals in the world and I would like to raise some money to help with feeding them.

“The zoo has understandably struggled during the pandemic and this is another reason why I want to help.

“I have enjoyed many trips to the zoo and especially visiting the giraffe house I would like others to continue to enjoy the same experience.”

The family have been regular visitors to the zoo for many years and Ollie enjoyed a giraffe feeding experience as a birthday gift.

There had been fears the zoo could be at risk of permanent closure and staff had been put on notice of redundancy due to the enforced coronavirus lockdown.

Sadly it was announced that sister attraction Living Coasts has been forced to close for good due to the financial impact of the pandemic.

But the zoo reopened on Monday for annual pass holders only and to the general public from Wednesday

The Torbay Weekly is working in partnership with the zoo on a fund-raising campaign to encourage donations and sponsorships and to publicise cash-raising events. If you have one send details to torbayweekly@archant.co.uk