‘Doing our Bit’ in Support of Chester Zoo’s Save Our Zoo Campaign

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As Careers and Employability – Student Futures, we are excited to announce that we have proudly adopted a critically endangered Bornean orangutan (Pongo Pygmaeus) as our contribution to Chester Zoo’s extensive Save Our Zoo campaign and to help fund conservation work in the UK and all around the world!

Chester Zoo was opened in 1931 by George Mottershead and his family who realised an ambition to transform a ramshackle house, on the outskirts of Chester, into a unique zoo that would change the way animals are kept for forever.

Today, the Zoo is a world leading animal charity, an advocate for global diversity and conservation, an educator and a major employer in the Chester area, including of our talented students and graduates. As a team, we therefore felt passionately about giving back and we are delighted to show our support to the Zoo. 

With the Zoo currently being one of the UK’s largest, and home to in excess of 35,000 individual animals and over 500 different species, it was definitely a difficult team decision regarding which animal to adopt.  Following a team vote, the Bornean orangutan came out on top and we are delighted to welcome our new addition to the team!

Chester Zoo is home to both Bornean and Sumatran orangutans. Originally the islands were connected to each other until around 40,000 years ago, allowing each species to evolve independently. There isn’t a huge amount of difference between them both, however Bornean orangutans spend more of their time on the ground than their Sumatran relatives, as it’s thought that this is due to the threat of tigers in Sumatra, which keeps the apes up in the safety of the trees.

The Bornean orangutan is among the many species being pushed to the brink of extinction in South East Asia by hunting, forest clearance and the planting of unsustainable oil palm plantations, which are destroying vast areas of the rainforest. The most recent estimate indicates that there could be as few as 55,000 Bornean orangutans left on the island of Borneo in Indonesia.  There is also an intense demand for the oil, which features in all sorts of every day products in the UK from food to cleaning materials and cosmetics. The University has already pledged its support to the Zoo’s Sustainable Palm Oil campaign, and is a Sustainable Palm Oil City Champion.

Fun facts…did you know that orangutans:

  • Are our closest living relatives on the planet, sharing 97% of human DNA
  • Are amongst the most intelligent animals on the planet
  • Live long lives, often living up to 40 years in the wild
  • Build nests to sleep in every night and are the heaviest tree dwelling animals
  • Enjoy eating with their feet, they are extremely dexterous!

At the time of writing this article, we are delighted to be able to share Chester Zoo’s welcome return having recently reopened its doors again to the general public following a three-month closure due to the Coronavirus pandemic.  There’s no denying that the Zoo has suffered severe financial loss due to COVID-19 and that their road to recovery will be long and hard. However, donations, animal adoptions and memberships have given the Zoo a vital lifeline and that’s why we felt compelled to ‘do our bit’ to support the wonderful work of this jewel of a visitor attraction we are very fortunate to have located on our doorstep.

Jamie Christon, Chief Operating Officer at Chester Zoo, added: “We have said it many times but it never stops being true – we are completely humbled by the extent of the support and love shown to us in our time of great need. We’ve seen overwhelming kindness when times are hard for everyone, not just us, and we’re incredibly grateful to those adopting animals, taking out memberships and fundraising on our behalf. Each and every fundraiser is an inspiration and is making a real difference. 

“The financial damage suffered during the Zoo’s closure has left a deep scar and, despite now being open again, the road to a full recovery remains uncertain. However, with the love, passion and energy of all of those supporting us, we will keep doing everything we can to save our Zoo, and continue our mission to prevent extinction.”

Colleagues in Careers and Employability very much look forward receiving a photograph of our new team member and to visiting the Zoo in the very near future as we are excited to see our name displayed on our ‘Thank You’ plaque, as well as meeting our new team member in person of course!

To find out more about the service and support available to students and graduates through Careers and Employability – Student Futures, please log onto CareerHub or email careers.chester.ac.uk or for employers and recruiters please email employers@chester.ac.uk

Sally Harding
Sally Harding – Employer Engagement Manager: Careers and Employability – Student Futures