Keepers at ZSL London Zoo have shared inspirational images of the gorilla troop tucking into armfuls of fresh veg during the last few days of Veganuary - as the closed zoo reveals eye-opening details from its monthly food bill while calling on the public for support in the form of donations.
Mums Effie and Mjukuu, and youngsters Alika and Gernot eat up to 14kg of plant-based delights each day, delivered fresh from Covent Garden Market three times a week – a typical month’s food order for London Zoo includes 500 boxes of sweet potato, 3,000 cucumbers, 18 bunches of baby beetroots and 215 corn on the cobs, adding up to more than £22,000 a month in veg alone.
Zookeeper Glynn Hennessy said: “Veganuary is drawing to a close and we thought that our gorillas tucking into handfuls of colourful, healthy veg would be the perfect inspiration for anyone finding these last few days a bit of a struggle.
“But it costs £1million a month to feed and care for the 20,000 animals at both London and Whipsnade Zoos, which is a lot of money when our gates are closed to the public and we don’t have the funds coming in from the ticket sales.”
A typical daily menu for the four Critically Endangered Western lowland gorillas consists of 1.4kg radicchio, 2.0kg cos lettuce, 5kg spinach, 3.5kg of mixed vegetables like leek and chicory and 800g of root veg like carrots and parsnips – plus a few handfuls of their favourite walnuts and other pulses.
Glynn added: “Our gorillas like their veg raw or lightly steamed, which is a lovely winter treat – they hold the warm veg in their hands until it cools, just like we do with hot drinks on a wintry walk. The troop love their fresh veg and the youngsters never need any encouragement to eat their greens – they really are the perfect inspiration for healthy eating!
ZSL London Zoo’s Chief Operating Officer Kathryn England, said: “We’re calling on the public once again to support our continued animal care during this third lockdown – our fundraiser, launched by Sir David Attenborough, is live at www.zsl.org/donate and people can contribute any amount to help out: £5 will buy a box of tasty cabbages for our giraffes, £20 will buy breakfast for all the animals in our Rainforest Life, while £53 will buy our gorilla troop the fresh veg and healthy pulses they love for a whole day.”
Reliant on income from ticket sales to care for the animals and fund their global conservation efforts, months of enforced closures have put ZSL’s charity zoos under huge financial pressure. Vets and zookeepers will continue to provide the highest level of care for their animals, working throughout the lockdown. ZSL, the international conservation charity behind the Zoos, is calling on the public to help ensure they remain open by donating to ZSL.