New home for EL zoo bears on the cards

Gina and Jenny, the East London Zoo’s bears, are one step closer to a new enclosure after Lionel de Lange, CEO of Lawrence Anthony Earth Organisation Ukraine, sent Buffalo City Metro (BCM) a one-page written proposal to purchase all the materials and supply the labour.

MAPPING WAY FORWARD: East London Zoo co-ordinator Siani Tinley, chief executive of Lawrence Anthony Earth Organisation Ukraine Lionel de Lange and Alison Leroux, East London Zoo manager, discuss the future of two brown bears Picture: RANDELL ROSKRUGE

De Lange said the area adjacent the existing bear enclosure could be used and proposed that the enclosure be flat with electric fencing and have a new pool for the bears.

He said the enclosure should be level “to make it easier for the bears to move around because of their age”, adding that the existing enclosure could still be used as a holding pen for the bears.

BCM spokesman Samkelo Ngwenya said that offers to the municipality had to be in a letter with the organisation’s letterhead adding: “That is how one functions when dealing with government so that when something goes wrong or when we have to account to auditors about assets, we have a proper paper trail to present.”

Ngwenya said that while an enclosure built by someone with the knowledge of bears like De Lange would be of interest to BCM and the zoo, it was “just as essential” to have a professional architect, quantity surveyor and service provider with the “competence to build a structurally sound enclosure”.

The delay in the process since De Lange’s visit last month was the absence of the formal letter, which has now been supplied.

Siani Tinley, BCM acting senior manager marine and zoological services, said: “We were looking for anything in writing so that we could get clarity on what exactly was being offered. From what has been put in writing we then have a way forward on what needs to be done next to possibly get this project approved and off the ground through the correct and available channels”.

De Lange said: “With regard to the time-frame, that will depend entirely on BCM. I would need a couple of weeks to get the funds ready but in that time plans can be drawn up and finalised.”