A plucky pair of zookeepers from Drusillas Park, Alfriston, will take to the skies today (5 August), as they skydive to raise vital funds for the endangered Sulawesi Black Crested Macaques.
Lauren Amos and Eva Hoad both work closely with the endangered species, also known as ‘yaki’s’ in their native Indonesia, and feel passionate about their conservation.
Lauren said, “Our time spent with these animals has taught us an awful lot and we decided it was time to give back. So, on 5 August we will both be taking part in a skydive for the first time ever.”
The pair are fundraising for Selamatkan Yaki, a conservation, research and education programme focused on saving the Sulawesi black crested macaques - one of the most endangered species at Drusillas.
Sadly their population has declined by as much as 80% over the last 40 years in the wild, mainly due to habitat destruction and hunting; they are considered a local delicacy and are currently being killed at an unsustainable rate.
However, the group at the Park are thriving, headed up by dominant male, Moteck, who arrived at the zoo from Monkey Park in Israel in 2010. Moteck means sweetie in Hebrew and this large monkey certainly lives up to his name.
Both Eva and Lauren already have a soft spot for the species after working closely with them at Drusillas, but hope that the skydive will raise greater awareness of these special animals and their plight.
Now, with only a couple of days to go before the daunting dive at Headcorn Airfield in Kent, the pair are starting to feel the nerves.
Eva said, “We started off thinking ‘Yes, let’s do this!’ but now that it’s getting closer the reality is starting to set in. The dive will take us both out of our comfort zones and will challenge us mentally. It will be totally worth it though, and a great experience.”
They’ve raised just over £400 so far, but are hoping their fundraising will reach new heights the more people hear about it.
“Unfortunately not enough people know about these amazing animals. We’re hoping we can help change that”.
If you would like to show your support for Eva and Lauren, and the Sulawesi black crested macaques, you can donate through their fundraising page.