Giving them the shirts off their backs

(Last Updated On: August 14, 2018)

Three charity zoos in the South West are recycling old uniforms to help hard-pressed conservationists across Africa.

Paignton Zoo Environmental Park, Living Coasts in Torquay and Newquay Zoo in Cornwall are donating old uniforms to PASA, the Pan-African Sanctuary Alliance, a group of primate sanctuaries.

Volunteers at Paignton Zoo, headed up by volunteer seamstress Nikki Stewart, are sewing over the logos and preparing the clothes for shipping. The items include polo shirts, sweatshirts, fleeces, waterproof coats and trousers, along with the odd hat.

Paignton Zoo mammal keeper Gemma Keohane is organising the donation: “I’m very excited to have the chance to play my small part, I know how much difference the uniform will make, it’s so worthwhile. I’ve not had a chance to count the mountain of clothing yet, but I imagine it will be around 150 items.”

Zoo spokesperson Phil Knowling added: “Recycling old uniforms is environmentally friendly – and sending them to sanctuaries in Africa is another great way to support conservation. It means our old uniforms have a second life!”

A courier will transport the uniform to a shipping warehouse in London. Manor River Freight Services will then ship the boxes. It’s thought it will take a month for the uniform to arrive in Sierra Leone by boat. The Zoo is paying for the boxes to be shipped.

The PASA annual conference takes place in Freetown, Sierra Leone, in the beginning of November. The Pan African Sanctuary Alliance is the largest association of wildlife centres in Africa; 23 member organizations in 13 countries are working to secure a future for Africa’s primates and their habitat.

The Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust is the charity that runs Paignton Zoo, Living Coasts in Torquay and Newquay Zoo in Cornwall. For more information go to or ring 01803 697500.

For information on PASA go to:

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