Zoo Calls for Food Donations
Published: September 4, 2013 (Issue # 1776)
Leningrad Zoo is running its annual Autumn Gifts campaign, inviting locals to bring food as gifts for the park’s animals.
“Autumn is a time when many people harvest all the fruit and vegetables grown over the summer at their dachas,” said Anastasia Arsenyeva, a representative of the zoo. “The good quality soil here means that people can grow quite a lot of food, sometimes too much food and they don’t know what to do with it all. To take advantage of this common problem, the zoo decided to establish an annual autumn campaign — instead of food rotting and going to waste, we are offering locals the chance to donate their homegrown food such as apples, cucumbers, squashes and others to the zoo which can then be fed to the animals. It’s a great way for local animal lovers to support the zoo without costing them much as well,” she said.
Anyone interested in donating food needs to simply leave their produce at the zoo’s security gate, along with their contact details. The most generous donor will be awarded free tickets to the zoo. This autumn, in particular, the zoo is requesting raspberries and acorns, as both are difficult to source from suppliers.
“Our aim is to develop and nurture a caring and responsible attitude towards animals within the community, especially with the younger generation. We hope that this food drive will encourage people to be interested in our animals and generate an increase in support,” said Arsenyeva.
However, some people are skeptical of the zoo’s food drive, seeing the campaign instead as proof that the zoo does not have the proper funds or means to feed and look after its animals properly. While the zoo is owned by the city, it relies heavily on grants, with most funding allocated to repairing the zoo’s buildings and cages. So far, there has been no proof given to these claims and local animal rights organizations have not had to investigate any reports.
“If the zoo was breaching animal violations and animals were starving or showing signs of not being fed properly, we would have learned about it,” said Dinara Ageeva, head of the St. Petersburg branch of the VITA animal rights center.
“It is difficult to say without investigating all the facts, but so far nothing indicates that there is a critical situation with the animals at the zoo — this is just a campaign to let people provide ‘gifts’ for the zoo’s animals, which is not a bad thing,” she said.
As well as food, the Leningrad Zoo encourages visitors to support their animals in various other ways such as donating rubber toys, plastic barrels for enclosures and plants to help decorate the cages.
“Nowadays there is enough revenue at the zoo to meet all the animals’ needs. However, our animals are always happy to be fed delicious homegrown food, full of vitamins and minerals. The more food that is donated the more money that can then be spent on improving their habitat,” said Arsenyeva.