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Runners raise more than £5,000 for struggling Norfolk zoos

PUBLISHED: 12:04 24 June 2020 | UPDATED: 12:04 24 June 2020

Runners, walkers and cyclists took part in a virtual challenge in a bid to rasie money for Banham Zoo and Africa Alive. Photo: Melanie Sturman

Runners, walkers and cyclists took part in a virtual challenge in a bid to rasie money for Banham Zoo and Africa Alive. Photo: Melanie Sturman

Melanie Sturman

Families put on their running shoes at the weekend as they did their bit to help two struggling Norfolk zoos by raising more than £5,000.

Runners, walkers and cyclists took part in a virtual challenge in a bid to rasie money for Banham Zoo and Africa Alive. Photo: Melanie SturmanRunners, walkers and cyclists took part in a virtual challenge in a bid to rasie money for Banham Zoo and Africa Alive. Photo: Melanie Sturman

Melanie Sturman, from Thetford, organised the virtual running challenge which saw more than 800 runners, walkers and cyclists clock up the miles in the race to save Banham Zoo and Africa Alive.

The 49-year-old parkrun coordinator said she wanted to do something to help the zoos she grew up with and to ensure they survived for future generations to enjoy.

Ms Sturman raised £5,300, after runners took part over the weekend, and she hoped it was a “step in the right direction”.

“We raised more than £5,000 in two weeks, which is amazing,” said Ms Sturman.

Melanie Sturman organised the virtual run to save two Norfolk zoos. Photo: Melanie SturmanMelanie Sturman organised the virtual run to save two Norfolk zoos. Photo: Melanie Sturman

“We had about 860 people involved and as far away as Southampton, Milton Keynes and Leicestershire.

“It was absolutely brilliant to see so many people take part - our youngest was three-years-old all the way to 70 plus.

“I am 50 in the summer and these zoos have been around since I was a child. I thought what a shame it would be if our grandchildren didn’t get to experience that too.

“It’s about ensuring our children have them there for years to come and the importance of conservation work.

Runners, walkers and cyclists took part in a virtual challenge in a bid to rasie money for Banham Zoo and Africa Alive. Photo: Melanie SturmanRunners, walkers and cyclists took part in a virtual challenge in a bid to rasie money for Banham Zoo and Africa Alive. Photo: Melanie Sturman

“Thank you to everyone who got involved.”

Runners took the opportunity to dress up as their favourite animals and prizes are set to be given for the best costume and for the longest distance travelled.

Claudia Roberts, managing director at the Zoological Society of East Anglia (ZSEA), said “We have been completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of love for Banham Zoo and Africa Alive.

“It is heartening to see how connected our communities feel to nature for conservation and wellbeing.

Runners, walkers and cyclists took part in a virtual challenge in a bid to rasie money for Banham Zoo and Africa Alive. Photo: Melanie SturmanRunners, walkers and cyclists took part in a virtual challenge in a bid to rasie money for Banham Zoo and Africa Alive. Photo: Melanie Sturman

“We are incredibly impressed by the dedication Melanie clearly has for our zoos, and equally impressed by the 700-plus people who signed up to join her.

“Melanie’s fundraising efforts are very much appreciated as it will help our team of dedicated animal keepers continue to provide vital care for our animals.”

Runners, walkers and cyclists took part in a virtual challenge in a bid to rasie money for Banham Zoo and Africa Alive. Photo: Melanie SturmanRunners, walkers and cyclists took part in a virtual challenge in a bid to rasie money for Banham Zoo and Africa Alive. Photo: Melanie Sturman

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