Zoo-loving Gabriel, 11, cycles 24-miles a day to raise more than £1,000
- Credit: Archant
An animal mad youngster has helped his local zoo with a gruelling charity challenge.
Gabriel Drups, 11, from Attleborough is so obsessed about everything fur and feathered, creepy and crawly he even has two turtles and a tarantula as pets.
And when he heard that Banham Zoo was in financial difficulty due to the Coronavirus lockdown he was desperate to help.
The zoo is one of his favourite places to visit, to see the animals and learn more about how they are cared for. He even wants to work there when he is older.
So he and his mum Tiana Mia set an ambitious challenge – to cycle the 24-mile round trip from his home to the zoo every day for a month and raise money through donations.
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His target was £1,000 and with his final ride completed on Saturday, he has already surpassed that with the total now over £1,200.
His family and friends were ready and waiting at Banham Zoo to cheer him on as he finished the ride.
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“The zoo is really important to me,” he said. “When I’m older I’d love to work there, probably with eagles as they are my favourite, so I’m really pleased with the money I’ve raised so far.”
Miss Mia, a personal trainer, said she was keen for all three of her children to do something active during lockdown but Gabriel had never been a keen cyclist.
“In the three months before this he’d probably been out on his bike twice,” she said. “But we decided we’d see how far it was to cycle to Banham Zoo and back and if it was possible for him but even before we set off he’d decided that he was going to do the challenge.”
The month-long task was made a lot easier by the generous donation of a new bike by Nathan Gostling, who owns NR Health Clubs in Attleborough, Dereham and Wymondham, and who had been impressed by the youngster’s efforts.
“Before then Gabriel had been using second-hand bikes so it was wonderful for him to have a new one,” said Miss Mia. “He is much fitter and more confident as a result and he wants to keep cycling to Banham even when the challenge is over.”
At the end of May Banham Zoo and Africa Alive! in Suffolk announced a “survival business plan”, cutting almost 70 jobs as it faced unprecedented financial difficulty through its enforced closure as a result of the pandemic.
The Zoological Society of East Anglia (ZSEA), which runs both zoos, announced the urgent cost cutting measures in order to ensure its future.
It costs £25,000 a week to feed and care for the animals at Banham Zoo alone and in the first two months of lockdown the loss in financial revenue between both the zoos was estimated at £1.5 million.
Claudia Roberts, commercial managing director of the ZSEA, said: “We are grateful to every single fundraiser and those who have made donations.
“So far an amazing £85,000 has been raised which will help us rebuild the future for Banham Zoo and Africa Alive!.
“We still have a huge mountain to climb to survive over the long winter period ahead so any support you can offer is really appreciated.”