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Tuesday, 3 April, 2001, 14:52 GMT 15:52 UK
Zoo gets 1.9m from mystery donor
The zoo has been closed because of foot-and-mouth
Edinburgh Zoo has been thrown an emergency lifeline in the form of a huge bequest from a mystery benefactor.

The home of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland had been financial difficulties after being shut for the past five weeks because of the foot-and-mouth crisis.

But now the zoo - and its sister attraction, the Highland Wildlife Park at Kincraig, near Aviemore - are to benefit from a 1.9m windfall left by a secret benefactor in her will.

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland
The society was formed in 1909 and Edinburgh Zoo opened in 1913
It aims to conserve endangered animals and wild habitats through breeding programmes, education and research
The society's annual turnover is 4.3m, but it gets no core funding from the government and current projects do not qualify for lottery money
Edinburgh Zoo is in the top three most popular paying visitor attractions in Scotland
The Highland Wildlife Park was acquired by the society in 1986 and attracts more than 70,000 visitors a year
It exhibits only native Scottish species which are now extinct in the wild, e.g. the wolf and bison
The identity of the benefactor, a former resident of Edinburgh, is being kept secret to protect the privacy of her family.

Professor David Waugh, director of The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, said he was delighted and extremely grateful for the bequest.

He said it will help safeguard the future of the zoo and wildlife park.

Prof Waugh said: "It will enable us to create some really exciting new attractions which will meet the needs of animal welfare and appeal to our visitors, as we forge ahead as a 21st century, world-class attraction with renewed energy and confidence."

He said the money would help drive the development of the zoo over the next 20 years and pay for much needed improvements to the wildlife park at Kincraig.

Edinburgh Zoo and the Highland Wildlife Park have been closed for the past five weeks to protect the animals from foot-and-mouth disease.

During that time the attractions have lost 170,000 and the Society is appealing to the Scottish Executive for compensation.

Meanwhile, Edinburgh Zoo is due to re-open on Wednesday and the Highland Wildlife Park opens again on Friday.

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