FEEDING time at the zoo is to take on a whole new dimension – when the animals at Edinburgh’s top attraction start getting deliveries of grub from a supermarket.
Zoo bosses have struck a deal with a city supermarket that will see them receive waste food that can be fed to the animals to keep costs down.
The zoo will receive regular deliveries from a new Sainsbury’s store at the SoCo development on South Bridge.
Due to open this week, it has been agreed that all daily waste fruit and vegetables will be made available to feed the zoo’s hungry residents.
The deal will see bears, monkeys and rhinos chomping their way through any leftovers – perishable produce would otherwise be thrown out – as it cannot be handed over to homeless charities or food banks.
Alas for giant pandas Yang Guang and Tian Tian, there are no plans to begin stocking their favourite snack bamboo just yet. However, if the scheme is a success, then there are plans to roll the idea out across other major Capital stores.
Zoo bosses have welcomed the deal as it will mean a reduced food bill for the animals it has across the 82-acre park.
South Bridge store manager David Duncan said: “The zoo is an Edinburgh institution and it’s fantastic that the new store will be able to assist in this way. If this trial is successful, the hope is that it can be rolled out across all Sainsbury’s stores throughout Edinburgh.” Edinburgh Zoo has come under financial strain in recent years after an ambitious £72 million masterplan funded by developing up to 120 homes on the hill fell through.
However, the arrival of its most famous residents, the giant pandas, in 2009 has provided a windfall in recent years with more than £4m swelling the coffers since their arrival from China.
A spokeswoman for the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland said: “As a charity we are more than happy to take any surplus food offered by supermarkets.
“This is not waste food but good quality produce that would otherwise be put in the bin. We are really pleased that Sainsbury’s have thought of us in this way.”
The opening of the new South Bridge store will mark a historic point in the rejuvenation of the area, which has been rebuilt following a large-scale fire in 2002. In total 38 new full and part-time jobs will be created, nearly a quarter of which have been filled through Remploy.
Also, each of the 38 new employees will be donating a Christmas present to Cash for Kids, a city charity seeking to help underprivileged children. £100 has also been donated to help Royal Mile Primary School set up a healthy eating breakfast club.