In February 2019, the Wildheart Trust welcomed two lion brothers, Vigo and Kumba, to the Isle of Wight Zoo after they were rescued from a Spanish circus. Prior to their rescue, Vigo and Kumba spent their lives cooped up in a lorry trailer travelling across Europe.
When young, both lions were neutered, and their claws were painfully removed, suppressing some of their natural behaviours and preventing them from growing manes.
However, the lions are still sizable, and the zoo needed a new space to accommodate these large animals.
The Wildheart Trust – which operates Isle of Wight zoo – relies on donations. But they didn’t have the funds, nor sponsorship to develop the new supersized accommodation.
After hearing Vigo and Kumba’s story, our Central South team were fascinated. They decided to partner with the zoo to give these big cats a new home as part of their annual community challenge.
With support from our supply chain partners and our people, we volunteered to help, donating our time and skills to design and build a new enclosure.
The result is a state-of-the-art facility which has enabled the zoo to focus their money and time on providing care for the lions, fundraising for the fittings and equipment to give these brothers the best possible home.
Veronica Chrisp, CEO of The Wildheart Trust, said: “We are deeply grateful for the generosity of companies such as Willmott Dixon who are helping us turn our wild aspirations into reality. Our support comes from a variety of sources from donors and sponsors, to members and visitors – all are vital to us as we embark on this remarkable journey. Your kindness is more than we could ever have asked for and we will miss you. You have become part of our team.”
Chris Packham also shared with us the importance of taking accountability for our natural world. “The plight the natural world finds itself in is because of us, humans have a lot to answer for. Projects like this show that people want to change the impact they have from a negative to a positive.”