Family's donation to zoo in memory of ostrich-lover Marie

Bird keeper and man who made zoo donation

Peter Smallbones and Andy Youngs - Credit: Paignton Zoo

A regular visitor to Paignton Zoo loved ostriches so much they were remembered as part of her legacy.

A donation of £800 was made by Andy Youngs, husband of the late Mrs Marie Youngs.

He explained: "Marie loved ostriches since she was a child. She found them hysterical creatures. She would laugh every time she saw one, whether on the TV or in real life. It was their quirky nature, jolting walk and how they will eat absolutely anything."

After Marie’s recent sad passing, Andy knew that as part of her legacy, she would love to raise money for the ostrich programme at the zoo.

He added: "Marie and I lived in Paignton for the majority of her life. She was a much loved lady and well thought of amongst her friends. She would help anyone in time of need. I knew that she would be so happy that the money was going towards supporting the ostriches after being a big supporter of the zoo over the years."

Pete Smallbones, Team Leader of Birds at the zoo, said: "Ostriches are the largest living bird and can weigh as much as two average adult men. They are also the world’s fastest two legged animal, reaching speeds of up to 70 kmph. We are the only place in the UK that you can see a red-necked ostrich and we are currently home to a female ostrich. Wild Planet Trust will be looking to pair her up with a mate very soon once current restrictions allow."

Red-necked ostriches have disappeared from much of their former range in North Africa due to over hunting. Ostriches in other parts of Africa are doing much better however and in many places are considered to be of least concern. 

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The zoo is home to over 2,500 animals and over 100 different species of birds. It is part of a world-wide captive breeding cooperation that aims to help the Critically Endangered red-necked ostrich thrive in its natural habitat. It is also a member of the British and Irish Association of Zoos Aquariums which is a conservation, education and wildlife charity.