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A Welsh Zoo is crowdfunding to build a new home for its snow leopards

Credit: The Welsh Mountain Zoo

A Welsh zoo is crowdfunding to create a new home for its snow leopards.

The Welsh Mountain Zoo in Colwyn Bay has launched its first ever crowdfunding campaign to help raise funds for its project, the Silk Road.

For the first time in sixty years, the general public are being invited to themselves become part of the zoo's very history.

The first project of its kind to be launched in the UK, Silk Road involves a completely new home for the Zoo's snow leopards, to replicate the mountainous regions in which the endangered species lives.

The Silk Road will forge links with China and the Himalayan mountains exploring the Chinese culture, anguage, environment and species that originate from there.

Some funding has already been secured through a private donor and the Zoo charity. But additional funding of £200,000 is needed by the charity to complete the £1million scheme.

The project has gained support from businesses, locals and celebrities including Dame Judi Dench and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall who are both making donations.

This is a really different project that deviates away from what is traditionally considered a typical zoo project. We felt that in keeping with this approach we would look at an alternative route to funding as part of the wider project mix. The crowdfunder allows friends of the zoo, animal lovers and those with a cultural interest in both Wales and China to really get involved in Silk Road and play an important role in its very existence.

With our wonderful pair of breeding snow leopards, we have through the years becoming increasingly involved in conservation campaigns and projects to raise awareness of their endangered status, now having made an annual commitment to support the Snow Leopard Trust. Silk Road will help highlight their position in the wild, whilst creating an exciting and innovative enclosure that will form an important part of the Zoo's future.

We welcome contributions of any size and have some wonderful rewards available, several of which simply can't be bought. These range from car stickers and t-shirts to 'adopt the zoo director' and major sponsorship of The Silk Road exhibit.

– Nick Jackson, Director at the Welsh Mountain Zoo

In association with Bangor University and the Confucius Institute, the project will explore and educate visitors on the culture of China.

Following on from this an interactive mobile device app will also connect zoo visitors

to the project by taking them on a journey about plants, animals, people, stories, and culture as they explore the connections between the flora and fauna of North Wales and China.

The snow leopard enclosure will be designed to offer visitors a nose to nose visual experience through glass, whilst an elevated walkway will journey around the site, offering panoramic views across the Zoo and to the Carneddau Mountains