Report from Chris Smith
Highland Wildlife Park manager Jeremy Usher-Smith with a lynx.
A mystery benefactor who has left £1.9million in her will is to bring new life to a Highland business currently closed as protection against foot-and-mouth disease.
Kincraig Wildlife Park, near Kingussie, is to receive a slice of the windfall, the rest of which is to go to Edinburgh Zoo.
It is hoped the donation will kickstart projects such as an interpretative centre for the proposed Cairngorm National Park.
The woman, believed to be a former Edinburgh resident with a long association with the Zoological Society of Scotland who own Edinburgh Zoo and the wildlife park, left £1.9million in stocks and shares.
Wildlife park manager Jeremy Usher-Smith said he was looking forward to discussing with the society projects he has in mind for the park's cut of the money Ð which as yet is undecided.
Mr Usher Smith said he was "delighted" the park was receiving the money.
He explained that Edinburgh Zoo would make claims on the windfall for a number of projects it wanted to carry out.
However, he added: "But we have opportunity here to put some key structures into the park that will enable us to go on evolving to become a successful and viable wildlife centre."
He went on: "We have until the foot and mouth been planning a restructuring of the park, with new enclosures, a special inter-breeding programme and an interpretative structure for the proposed Cairngorm National Park. Now we can go ahead."
Professor David Waugh, director of The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, said he was delighted and extremely grateful for the bequest which he said would safeguard the future of the zoo and wildlife park.
He 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."
Prof Waugh 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. Edinburgh Zoo is due to re-open tomorrow and the walkways and forest habitats of the Highland Wildlife Park open on Friday.
The park should open more fully on Good Friday.
Press & Journal, 30 th April, 2001
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