Maltese zookeeper Christopher Borg is determined to rebuild and re-open his Wildlife Park in Mtahleb, which was destroyed in a fire two weeks ago.
“Seeing the park destroyed breaks my heart, but when I see my animals loving me and kissing me, I have to find a way to rebuild this park,” Borg said on his Facebook wall. Our determination is to build the park again to make it as comfortable as possible for our beloved animals, who we treat as our children.”
The fire, which was reportedly caused by a gas leak, claimed the lives of two leopards, a group of monkeys, lemurs, and exotic birds. However, several animals – including two lions, tigers, and bears – managed to survive the ordeal.
Now Borg has started a crowdfunding campaign, in which he is urging the public to donate small amounts of money to a newly set-up bank account, which is being administered by a notary, an accountant and the Wildlife Park’s vet.
Separately, British zookeeper and former Wildlife Park employee Clare Calloway has started her own online crowdfunding campaign – which has so far generated almost €500 – to help her former employer out.
“I was rocked by this tragedy and I feel the need to do something practical to help the family and animals I love so much,” she said. “Please give whatever you can to help get these animals back in their enclosures and help the family rebuild their home. We will be so grateful to receive your donation, however large or small, in memory of Buddy the leopard who stole my heart.”
The public appears to be responding well, with hundreds – Maltese and foreigners alike – sharing Borg’s call for funds and posting that they have donated money to his cause.
“Come on, Chris…don’t lose faith and hope,” an English woman commented. “I know you as a person who loves a challenge and there is no challenge too big for you to face. You have overcome so many obstacles through the years and this is one of them. Those animals are your children and you would never give up on your children, no matter what obstacles life throws at you because we would do anything for our children.”
A Maltese man commented: “You will never give up Chris! Those who know you and the love you have for your animals who you call your children know that you will make it! Everyone is looking forward to seeing the new and better-than-before Wildlife Park!”