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  1. ITV Report

Zookeeper's challenge to protect endangered species

A woman who's spent her life caring for animals is taking on a fresh challenge to raise money for endangered species.

Kim Simmonds, who's a director at Linton Zoo in Cambridgeshire, will join other zookeepers from around the region to climb mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

Kim's particular love is lions - she's hand-raised some of the cubs at the zoo - and she'll be raising money to help safeguard their future.

Kim Simmonds at Linton Zoo. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Kim, who raised the lions Zuri and Safina, said: "I'm mother lion to many of them. Safina was abandoned as a tiny lion and she's been with us since a few weeks old. She moved outside and met up with Zuri who came to us at four months old."

Kim's climbing Kilimanjaro this week, along with colleagues from other zoos in our region. They're rasing money to help protect animals from the affects of climate change, Kim's also helping a chairty which looks after lions in Kenya.

She said: "I haven't ever done anything like this. I do spend a lot of time at work outside so I've tried to build into the physical things I do. I've had lots of advice like running up the stairs during the day."

James Welch, an Apprentice Animal Keeper, knows how valuable charity work is to animal conservation.

He said: "If you look at these two lions, there's only 23,000 left in the wild. It's important to let people know. That's why Kim's challenge is so important, letting people know."

Click below to watch Luke Farrington's report.