Above: Native to south China and the Himalayas, wild Pekin robin numbers are in decline due to habitat loss. Johnston & Jeff’s sponsorship deal with Chester Zoo will help pay towards its Pekin robins’ feed requirements. Photo: Chester Zoo


LEADING BIRD SEED manufacturer, Johnston & Jeff, is doing its bit to support UK zoos during a tough 2020 by adopting two bird species at Chester Zoo.

The East Yorkshire company has announced it will donate bird food to the value of £3,000 to Chester Zoo each year, to help feed the park’s 70 Pekin robins (Leiothrix lutea) and three wrinkled hornbills (Aceros corrugatus). The adopted species, which were picked at random, are just two of 500 species at Chester Zoo. Having had the seed supplied, the zoo can redirect the money it would have spent back into other urgent needs, such as education and conservation projects.

Dr Mark Pilgrim, chief executive officer at Chester Zoo, said: “Although the zoo has reopened, which is vital to our future survival, there’s still a long way to go before we’re fully back on track.”

Chester Zoo’s closure between late March and June 14, due to the coronavirus pandemic, has left a “huge £5.5m scar” in its finances.

“There is no denying that there will be some very challenging times ahead for this great charity zoo,” said Dr Pilgrim.

He continued: “We’re so incredibly grateful to everyone who has rallied around us. We’ve been truly overwhelmed by the love, support and kindness that we’ve been shown. Each and every donation is absolutely crucial to us – helping to make sure we have a future in our mission to prevent extinction.”

Chester Zoo is a long-term customer of Johnston & Jeff, and so the company reached out to see how it could help.

Maddy Johnston, the company’s marketing and media manager, said: “Lockdown has been extremely detrimental for all visitor attractions, but zoos have been particularly hard-hit. All the fantastic extra work zoos do – playing a vital role in conservation and providing education programmes – has had to take a backseat.”

Plaques marking the adoption will be put up in the species’ habitats at Chester Zoo.

“We knew we wanted to adopt birds, because that fits so well with what we do,’ Miss Johnston said.

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