Is this the best publicity stunt ever?
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019
A Norfolk zoo boss enlisted the help of a tiger to launch a new fund – but had to resort to a rather unusual ploy when the big cat decided not to play ball.
It was all thanks to designer aftershave 'splashed all over' a large cheque to get Sveta, an 11-year-old Siberian tiger, interested in launching the conservation fund.
Professor David Field, CEO at Banham Zoo, near Diss, and Suffolk's Africa Alive! had hit on a much more novel idea of the routine cheque presentation. He decided to let Sveta, one of the zoo's biggest attractions, 'present' the cheque herself but to do this, he had to spray it with Paul Smith 'Extreme' aftershave.
He said: "You could say this made our donation even sweeter. Tigers have a very profound sense of smell and in fact we've found Calvin Klein is Sveta's favourite, but we only had Paul Smith today. But Old Spice and Brut - they really don't do it for her."
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The zoos rely on donations from the public of old, unwanted perfumes which they use to spray around the enclosures of tigers and other big cats. "They love rubbing against it, it's amazing to see them. When Sveta goes to her top platform, she can see everything, the world comes to her," he added.
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In fact, Calvin Klein's Obsession for Men is renowned in the zoo world for being popular with tigers. Apparently the secret lies in an ingredient called civetone, a pheromone that's secreted by small mammals called civets and added in synthetic form in many musky colognes.
In fact, it took a little more than a whiff to get Sveta interested - but after keepers tempted her closer with some little pieces of meat, she finally gave the cheque a nod - and sniff - of approval.
And it made up for not having her mate, a male tiger called Kuzma, who is currently off on loan to another zoo as part of a breeding programme.
The photocall was to launch a really important new initiative at Banham Zoo and Africa Alive! run by the Zoological Society of East Anglia. Its new conservation fund aims to raise money to support endangered species around the world with a target of saving 15 in the next five years.
Its first donation has gone to the WildCats Conservation Alliance which will fund tiger wardens in Sumatra, helping protect the animals from poachers. Money was raised through the zoo's 50th anniversary celebrations.
But other money raised will also go towards helping protect native species such as the dragonflies at Africa Alive! It boasts 20 species including one of its largest, the emperor dragonfly.
Money can be raised as well from public donations at the venues on top of the admission. "It's hard to raise extra money," said Mr Field. "What we are trying to do is to help inspire people coming to our venues by our animals so they form an emotional attachment and want to donate."
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