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An international environmental aid organisation has said it would be willing to fund the building of a new enclosure for the East London Zoo’s ageing bears.

The zoo‚ the subject of a petition to have it closed down and its animals relocated earlier this year‚ was paid a visit on Monday by Lionel de Lange‚ CEO of the Lawrence Anthony Earth Organisation Ukraine‚ who says he would be willing to find the funds.

De Lange runs a bear sanctuary in the Ukraine where he rehabilitates bears which have faced abuse in a country which‚ until recently‚ did not have wildlife laws.

His interest in the local bears was raised when he saw the online petition‚ which garnered widespread local and international attention. Together with Neil Ovens of AID 4 SA‚ the pair struck a deal with Pick n Pay to provide appropriate food just past its sell-by date for the zoo’s animals. The details are still being finalised.

The Daily Dispatch arrived at the zoo on Monday‚ witnessing a heated debate between De Lange and Siani Tilney‚ acting senior manager marine and zoological services for the Buffalo City Metro. However‚ the pair came out of their meeting hoping to work together.

“I am pleasantly surprised with the [bear] enclosure but it could be so much better‚” said De Lange‚ adding that he thought the enclosure had far too much concrete and there were too many rocks.

De Lange said that if he was allowed he would be willing to build a new enclosure for the bears‚ saying that his organisation would find the funding and also hire a builder.

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