Lockdown Lift: Meet the 7 year old walking 77 miles for his local zoo

Video report from Mary Stanley

A boy from Eastleigh has raised more than £5,500 for his local zoo as he aims to walk 77 miles in the run up to his 7th birthday.

Teddy Smith wanted to help Marwell Zoo following a break in at the site.

He'd originally set himself a target of £177 - but his success has inspired other youngsters to join his challenge.

  • WATCH: Teddy explains his challenge

Teddy is a particular fan of tigers and also happens to be in the tiger class at school.

His whole family are now taking part, all in costume.

"They think dad's crazy, but they think I'm cute!" Teddy said.

Joanna Smith, Teddy's mum, said: "He goes out and we wave at people out there.

"It's just gone crazy, we've been overwhelmed by all the donations and the response so far."

"It's quite phenomenal," said Simon Smith, Teddy's dad.

"We set a target of £777, we thought that would be really, really hard to get, but just with the kindness of the local people who've come out to support Teddy...has been absolutely fantastic."

  • A "lonely time" for zoo staff

Like many visitor attractions, the park has been hit hard by the pandemic.

The zoo says the lockdown has cost them around £4 million.

They hope to reopen in April, but James Cretney, Chief Executive at Marwell Wildlife said it was a "lonely time" for staff.

"They enjoy being with their animals, but they miss our visitors.

"I think for them, knowing people are out there and raising money and thinking of is hugely warming.

"It's not just the money, it's the fact that people are putting themselves out and thinking of us in the first place"

Marwell is home to rare Amur tigers - native to Russia and north eastern China

Teddy's efforts and the plight of the zoo have also inspired others to join the fundraising.

He says he'll keep walking right up until his 7th birthday - May 7th.

It's no surprise that he wants a tiger shaped cake for his celebration, as well as a trip to Marwell Zoo.