A host of stars have lined up behind Sir David Attenborough to support London Zoo in its hour of need, with a hilarious ad debuting on Britain’s Channel 5 earlier this week.
The launch of an appeal by Sir David Attenborough, calling on the public to protect Zoological Society of London (ZSL) – the charity behind the world’s oldest scientific zoo, London Zoo – has attracted the support of a flock of famous comedians.
Top British talent including Jonathan Ross, Catherine Tate and Meera Syal voiced zoo animals plotting ways to save the zoo – including a technologically inept giraffe, two hipster hash-tagging lemurs and a spiritual gorilla.
While Bill Bailey, Alan Carr, Dane Baptiste and Shazia Mirza also joined the cast for the light-hearted television advert with a serious message.
The short film shows Bob the emperor tamarin monkey, voiced by Bailey, chairing a zoo marketing meeting with his furred and feathered ‘colleagues’ to discuss how to raise urgent funds, with Bhanu – London Zoo’s male Asiatic lion – landing on the winning idea through an accidental screen freeze.
ZSL, the international conservation charity behind London and Whipsnade Zoos, is running its biggest-ever fundraising drive to ensure its groundbreaking science and global conservation work, and two world-class zoos can survive in the face of major financial losses.
Relying on the power of laughter to raise money, the charity hopes to claw back some of the income lost due to the coronavirus-enforced zoo closures, with an aim of generating £1million ($1.8 million) a month.
Bailey said of the work: “I was delighted to voice Bob the tamarin to support their appeal, as it’s for an excellent cause, and, I also think Bob and I are quite similar. Wwe both share a certain joie de vivre, and have eccentric facial hair.
“I’ve worked with ZSL on a number of occasions to raise awareness and support for their important conservation projects for threatened species – but now they’re the ones at risk. This is how I can help.”
ZSL’s director general, Dominic Jermey, said the closure of London and Whipsnade Zoos had put the charity under immense financial pressure.
He said: “we’re fighting our biggest challenge in our 200-year history. The situation ZSL is facing is anything but funny.
“We’re hoping this light-hearted approach, supported by an incredible array of comedians who have generously donated their voices to our campaign, will get people smiling and donating.”
The news comes after National Geographic UK in May reported on the dire situation faced by Britain’s zoos.
Dartmoor Zoo – whose CEO Benjamin Mee wrote the book We Bought a Zoo, which was adapted into a 2011 film – revealed back then that it would be forced to consider euthanasia for any animals that couldn’t be re-homed if its own funding shortfall forced closure.
Thankfully, UK Environment Minister Rebecca Pow later outlined that the government’s £14 million ($25 million) ‘Zoos Support Fund’ would help address avoidable animal suffering in zoos.
To support the ZSL appeal, click here.
Featured image source: YouTube/ZSL – Zoological Society of London