Penscynor Wildlife Park, like many zoos, ran a successful ‘Adopt an animal’ scheme. Adopters received an information sheet about their favourite animal, a certificate, a plaque at the entrance and on the animal’s enclosure, three free visits a year and, at the end of their year, a news sheet updating them with all the latest gossip about their animal.
There’s a gallery of the information sheets on Flickr if you’d like to see or download the full-sized (A4) images.
Writing the annual updates for some animals was a challenge because they didn’t do a lot from year to year. If you’d adopted an endangered monkey or parrot that was part of a breeding programme then there was always a lot of news to put in: births, deaths, animals moving to and coming in from other zoos, etc. But, not all our animals let such dynamic lives.
The donkey, a lovely old fellow whom we’d given a home to in his dotage, shared his enclosure with a pair of guanaco and a Shetland pony. He came to the fence to be fussed and given treats by the visitors, he ate grass, and he fought off the amorous advances of the shetland pony with patience bordering on fortitude. That’s all, that’s pretty much what a donkey in a paddock does. One year, I wrote in detail about the Shetland pony’s constant, and let’s be honest, optimistic (given their height difference) sexual harassment and sent it to the adopter, the ‘Baha’Is of Swansea.’ I got a lovely letter back, saying how my update had been read out at their meeting and everyone had enjoyed it, but the notepaper had the full name of the group, ‘the Spiritual Assembly Of The Baha’Is Of Swansea’! I had the image of people, at the end of worship, sitting, shocked and traumatised by exposure to my ribald content. I was really worried about complaints when they came for their annual visit to the donkey.
Quite by chance, the woman who co-ordinated the adoptions and their annual visit called me to check some details on the evening before I was going to be interviewed by the Producer of the Really Wild Show as a potential new presenter. During the call, I apologised for being a little distracted and explained why. Straight away, she said, ‘Well I must organise prayers for you – can’t be talking, work to be done’, and off she went to organise people. Thank you Josie, and thank you all who prayed for me that night. Visit bahai.org.uk if you’d like to find out more.
Original leaflet illustration and adoption fact sheets by Denise Cox.
Revised leaflet graphic by Wyn Griffiths from an illustration by Bernard Ryan. Leaflet design, Howie Watkins.