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Pepsi Invests Millions in Hope Zoo

Published:Friday | June 26, 2015 | 6:00 AM
Pepsi's branding is now visible at the Hope Zoo.

Pepsi-Cola Jamaica Limited has, through its parent company, CAB Corp, invested millions in the development of the Hope Zoo in St Andrew.

For years, the Hope Zoo was in a dilapidated state, but after a revamping exercise, the facility is now at a First-World standard and Pepsi has joined hands with the curators to ensure that the standard is maintained.

Marketing manager for Pepsi-Cola, Mitchell Watson, said the soft-drink company is excited to work with the zoo, given its past experience in partnering with a zoo in Guatemala.

"The Hope Zoo is such a place that should not be allowed to go to waste," he said.

The Hope Zoo is currently being run by the Hope Zoo Preservation Foundation, led by Kenny Benjamin, chairman of the Guardsman Group of Companies, and was revamped in 2013 with the addition of a number of new animals.

A five-year-old lion was donated to the zoo in June last year by American naturalist Charlie Sammut. A number of other animals have also been added to the collection at the more than 40-year-old zoo.

But according to Watson, the move by Pepsi to assist the zoo is less about profit and more about good corporate citizenship.

"It's less about the sale of our product, but more about building on something that is important to the Jamaican family. We see this opportunity to work along with the foundation as a commendable one, and we want to make sure that Jamaican families can enjoy it," Watson explained.

Pepsi did not disclose the exact amount of the investment. However, sources say that it is in the region of $50 million.

The Jamaican iguana is an endangered species, and curators at the Hope Zoo have been placing special emphasis on a breeding project for iguanas that has been replenishing the population in the hills of Hellshire in St Catherine.

But Watson was careful to point out that Pepsi's involvement is not about one species of animal, but the entire Hope Zoo project.

"We know about the iguana project. What we are involved in is not short term. The deliverables are not short term; it is a 10-year project. We intend to go all the way. It is important to the DNA of the Cab Corp group," he said.