Banker adopts entire zoo in Golders Hill Park
An investment banker who has adopted an entire zoo – albeit a small one – had a birthday to remember, bonding with the animals.
Eral and Tatyana Gokgol-Kline, who live in Heath Drive off Revington Road, have long enjoyed visiting Golders Hill Zoo with their baby and pet cocker spaniel.
But they decided to become more than visitors when they spent �240 to adopt ring-tailed lemurs, ring-tailed coatis, two donkeys, two European eagle owls, laughing kookaburras and white-faced whistling ducks – every breed of animal in the zoo’s adoption scheme.
On Thursday last week as he celebrated his 32nd birthday, Mr Gokgol-Kline went behind the scenes for the first time to help dish out the animals’ dinner.
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He said: “My wife and I love walking to the zoo so it was great to meet and learn more about the animals that we spend time with every weekend.”
The banker met Pedro and Pepe the South American coatis, who have long curved noses to dig deep and scout out the mealworms and raisins which are fed to them in captivity.
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He also met the ring-tailed lemurs, born in Yorkshire and native to Madagascar, who are partial to grapes and bananas.
But some of the animals have more gruesome diets, with the eagle owls devouring eight chicks a day between them.
The owls do not receive visitors in their cage, so Mr Gokgol-Kline gave them a wide berth and met the zoo’s donkeys, Siena and Calypso.
“Calypso and I had a great exchange,” he said. “The carrot helped but she also tried to eat my shirt. Hanging out with Calypso was the best bit, but everything was great,” he added.
“Normally we’re on the other side of the fence with the dog and the baby, so it’s great to see inside.
“It definitely makes coming here all the more interesting now I know more about them.”
He and his wife Tatyana donated to the zoo’s adoption scheme last year as they wanted to give something back to the place that gives them so much pleasure.
The scheme was set up two years ago to offer visitors to the zoo, run by the City of London Corporation, the chance to adopt animals.
The Gokgol-Klines didn’t realise it, but every adopter went into a prize draw to win a tour of the zoo lead by keeper Rebecca Hunter, and since they were so enthusiastic and had adopted all the animals, their names were chosen.
“We donated to the scheme because we come here so often and wanted to give something back,” said Mr Gokgol-Kline. “We never realised there was a prize, so it was a great surprise to be invited to meet the animals, and a great birthday present as it happens.”