I am sure I speak for all islanders when I say that we are immensely proud of our zoo and the wonderful work it does in the world of conservation. This is why it’s so sad to see it in financial difficulties. However, and it pains me to say this, it’s not very surprising if we’re honest. For you see our wonderful zoo is actually — oh don’t make me say it — it is actually a pretty boring and very expensive place to visit. The last time I took my children there they were extremely taken with the standard issue dickie birds and seagulls which hung around the tables of the world’s most expensive cafe. They weren’t so taken with the exotic birds hidden behind foliage in their cages.
It’s difficult to explain to a young child why a bird hidden in a cage rather than a seagull stealing your hotdog is more impressive but that’s where we are. My pleas to stop looking at the free birds fell on deaf ears and so they’d huff and we’d squint into the cages and say things like “What’s supposed to be in here?”
I’m not advocating emus and elephants that you can actually feed with popcorn out of your hands like you can in that awesome zoo in France — I’m well aware that’s just a ruse so that we pay to fatten them up so the French can eat them but how about a petting zoo? With goats and things. Or a few totally awesome animals? Like penguins? I appreciate they’re not endangered but come on, everybody loves penguins and at least you can see them, not like the Aye Aye which, let’s face it, probably doesn’t even exist. Get a tiger or a killer whale and it can be a sort of loss leader. I do appreciate that the zoo is in a very difficult situation as conservation done right is by definition a pretty poor spectator sport, but again I think I speak for the people of the island when I say we really want to visit the Zoo more regularly, just give is a reason to do so because paying a large amount of money to see animals we can’t see and others that don’t do anything just isn’t cutting it.
I READ Mr Barker’s letter (JEP, 21 January) with absolute abhorrence. In fact I had to read it twice in order to reinforce my disbelief as to what I had just read.Durrell Wildlife may be ‘boring’ to Mr Barker, but clearly he hasn’t grasped the actual mission for which Durrell exists. Frankly, it’s an insult to the legacy of Gerald Durrell and the organisation today.Durrell Wildlife is a conservation trust and it is this key fact I think Mr Barker may have omitted from his letter or indeed ‘idea’. The organisation clearly has no agenda which includes the likes of ‘petting farms’ when it is working towards saving animals around the world from extinction.Mr Barker has also omitted that the true cost of visiting Durrell for a named person and any guest, 364 days a year, is just £5.42 a month. Such a sum requires no budgeting plan nor capital expenses programme.Fundamentally, Durrell has the admiration of Islanders and people from all corners of the globe, not because of its new feature penguins (I hope Mr Barker is using sarcasm when proposing such an idea) but because it has changed the world we live in and achieved amazing globally pioneering results in its captive breeding programmes.Perhaps next time Mr Barker will read the information displayed around the park in the course of his visit. He seems to have missed the point so to speak.Well done to those who are members of Durrell. Luckily that means a lot of animals we see now we’ll still be able to see in the future, as will our children.
Dear SirJudging by the reaction to my letter it seems I was incorrect in my suggestion that the Zoo — sorry, The Wildlife Conservation Trust — was an expensive and boring place to visit. That would explain why it’s doing so well! That was sarcasm, people. It’s not doing well, because it’s an expensive and boring place to visit, in many people’s eyes at any rate. As I said we are all very proud of our Durrell and the fantastic work it does, but the fact is, and try as you might, you can’t ‘guilt’ people into going somewhere they don’t want to go. That’s why the, “shame people only visit when it’s free” spiel won’t work, I mean that’s the reverse psychology you use on children to get them to eat horrible food. It’s not about money. It’s about a visitor attraction without enough visitors or attractions, or perhaps they don’t want visitors anymore? So they can concentrate on conservation? Don’t get me wrong it’s wonderful that some people, like some of your angrier readers, seem to love visiting the place as it is but the fact is there are more who don’t. And it’s all very well burying your head in the sand like one of those big bird things and saying the problem is with the people too mean to pay to visit, but how does that help anybody? You can’t blame people who don’t want to visit your establishment for the lack of visitors. Better surely to ask why do we not want to visit the place even though we’re all rolling in money and at a loss for things to do at the weekend? I’ll give you a clue, we’re not not visiting Durrell because it’s so very awesome and wonderful value for money and it’s not because we want to see animals become extinct. I love all animals except for our cat and, again, we’re proud of what the, erm — why can’t you call it a zoo anymore? short for zoological park? Because they rebranded it? — we’re proud of what they do. We would all love to visit it more which in turn would help save endangered species and like it or not the best way to get us there is with awesome animals such as hippos or chimps, not with those things that are basically just horses. Before I go, to end on a positive note, I must just ‘big up’ the meerkats, those little guys are totally awesome, they’re a step in the right direction. A few more exciting animals like that and I’ll be ripping the gates off the place to get in!yours sincerely
From N**** G****** managing director, The Boat House Group.
Let’s all help to boost this wonderful facility
I AM writing in response to the letters from S****C***** and C*****B***** (JEP, 25 and 26 January respectively) who have quite rightly come forward in defence of our wonderful Wildlife Conservation Trust Durrell, after the ill-considered comments in Mr Barker’s letter (JEP, 21 January).
I would like to add to their suggestions, as I believe it is not just down to individuals to help keep Durrell going, but also down to local businesses.
For many local businesses, 2009 was a hard year and, in consequence, Durrell and other charities were affected by loss of corporate sponsorship.
However, I hope that 2010 might be the year when we can all become a little innovative with our sponsorships and still give Durrell the support it needs.
I totally agree with C****B*****’s notion of everyone ‘giving something small but producing something big’. Even if local businesses did only one fundraising activity, this could really make a difference.
The Boat House Group have recently opened The Tree House restaurant at La Marquanderie Inn, St Brelade, and we have started a fundraising scheme for Durrell there by donating 50p from every order of our vegetarian pizza Giardiniera to the charity.
All these small actions really do add up. I was saddened to see Durrell announce that they were experiencing financial difficulties and I hope that we can all make an effort to give a boost to this wonderful facility.
Dear SirI would like to thank N**** G*****, Managing Director of The Boat House Group, for his inspiring letter in which, after having a pop at me, he informs us that fifty pence will go to Durrell for each of his terrific vegetarian ‘Giardiniera’ pizzas he sells at the newly refurbished restaurant, The Tree House, La Marquanderie Inn, St Brelade. Those fifty pences will soon add up. However I would also ask, and I’m sure he’ll do it, in-keeping with the spirit of his letter, that he also donate whatever the going rate is for an advert for a restaurant to be placed in the JEP, as most of his letter reads like one. Perhaps he could donate the cost of two adverts as this letter also serves as an advert for his fantastic new restaurant and its benevolent vegetarian pizza pie.Yours sincerely