Zoo launches final bid to rescue circus trio before Christmas

Carmen the bear
Carmen the bear
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A CAMPAIGN to rescue a trio of former circus bears has launched a Christmas appeal after reaching its halfway target in donations.

The appeal, spearheaded by the Five Sisters Zoo in West Calder, to save Suzy, Carmen and Peggy from horrendous conditions in Belgium has now raised £40,694 in just over three months.

But a total of £80,000 is needed to transport the bears from a temporary holding pen in the country to a specially-built enclosure at the West Lothian zoo.

Zoo owner Brian Curran said: “We are so grateful to everyone who has donated so far. It is amazing we have reached the halfway mark so quickly. We now need one final, huge push to help raise the final funds and bring the circus bears to their new home as soon as possible.”

To help raise the rest of the cash, the zoo is offering animal lovers the chance to purchase a “Save the Circus Bears” festive gift in the run-up to Christmas.

Among the gift packages on offer is The Plaque Pack, which allows a name to be engraved on a large Save the Circus Bears wall plaque at the back of the new enclosure in recognition of the campaign. The price is £10 per name.

For £50, zoo visitors can purchase “Paw Print a Post”, which allows them to have their name and message engraved on a post at the enclosure.

The final gift package, “The Bear Bag”, includes a certificate from Suzy, Carmen and Peggy thanking the individual for their support, as well as a bear coffee mug, cuddly toy bear and an information pack. It is available for £25.

Mr Curran added: “The Christmas gift packages enable visitors to become a permanent presence at the enclosure by offering people the opportunity to engrave the names of loved ones on the enclosure as a sign of their support for Peggy, Suzy and Carmen.”

The bears, aged between 23 and 28, who were born in captivity, spent 20 years in a travelling circus, living in cages measuring just ten metres square. Suzy still paces in circles as a result of the horrific conditions.

When the circus owner, who lived with the bears in Germany, retired he took them to Belgium. However, he became seriously ill and is now in hospital long-term, prompting the bears’ move to the temporary holding centre in Belgium, where they are living in cramped conditions.

Construction of their new home at the zoo is well under way and it is hoped that Suzy, Carmen and Peggy will be moved in by Christmas.

The appeal has been backed by celebrities, including Sky Sports presenter Kirsty Gallacher and Coronation Street actress Kate Ford.

Recent calls have been made for West Lothian singing sensation Susan Boyle to back the campaign, with fundraisers believing her support may raise the appeal’s profile even further.

To make a donation, visit www.fivesisterszoo.co.uk/prices/save-the-bears-donation