Wed | Dec 7, 2016

Hope Zoo to get help from South Africa

Published:Monday | November 10, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Executive chairman of the Hope Zoo Preservation Foundation Limited Kenny Benjamin (left) explains the work done at the Hope Zoo over the last two years. Listening intently are (from second left) South African High Comissioner Mathu Joyini; town clerk Robert Hill; Mayor of Kingston Angela Brown Burke; and Kgosientso Ramokgopa, mayor of the city of Tshwane, during a luncheon and brief tour of the Hope Zoo. Photo by Brian McCalla/Photographer

On his recent visit to Jamaica, Kgosientso Ramokgopa, executive mayor of the city of Tshwane in South Africa, announced the twinning of the Kingston and St Andrew municipality with that of Pretoria. Expertise will be provided to assist with research and innovation to Jamaica's Hope Zoo. The Hope Zoo is home to 900 animals across 60 species, including indigenous, endangered, and endemic animals from Jamaica, Africa, and the Americas. Among the main attractions is Lucas the Lion.

The National Zoological Gardens of South Africa is the largest zoo in the country and the only one with national status. The primary objective of the Animal Collection and Conservation Department is to establish a world-class zoological garden and conservation organisation.

The 85-hectare zoo in Pretoria houses 3,117 specimen of 209 mammal species, 1,358 specimen of 202 bird species, 3,871 specimens of 190 fish species, 388 specimen of 4 invertebrate species, 309 specimen of 93 reptile species, and 44 specimen of 7 amphibian species.

According to Ramokgopa, during a tour of the Hope Zoo, based on the agreement between both cities, his administration will look at offering technical assistance and perhaps giving animals to the zoo. However, the final decision on which animals would be given to the Hope Zoo would depend on an assessment by their veterinary division because of the difference between the climates of both countries.

supporting others

"My municipality is responsible for the largest zoo in South Africa. It is an institution that we have managed for many years, so we can offer technical support and different areas of management that we have put in place over the years," Ramokgopa said.

More than 600,000 people visit the zoo in Pretoria annually. The total length of the walkways is approximately six kilometres. An aquarium and reptile park also form part of the facility.

Executive chairman of the Hope Zoo Preservation Foundation Limited, Kenny Benjamin, said Hope Zoo, being one of the finest zoos in the Caribbean and one of the best small zoos in the world, would welcome the expertise and assistance from South Africa.

"In the last two and a half years, we have begun to transform the Hope Zoo with the aim of bringing it back to its glory days and making the facility bigger and better than before. This process will take some time and effort, so we are happy that we will be able to get some assistance from the South African government," Benjamin said.

Meanwhile, according to Mathu Joyini, the South African high commissioner to Jamaica, the diplomatic relations could not have come at a better time as it will only help to further deepen the ties already established between Jamaica and South Africa.

keisha.hill@gleanerjm.com