Crowdfund Dartmoor Zoo

by dartmoor-zoo in Plymouth, Devon

To secure the future of Dartmoor Zoo as a centre of excellence for conservation, education and research.

by dartmoor-zoo in Plymouth, Devon

We did it
On 22nd December 2014 we successfully raised £339,930 with 740 supporters in 35 days

Crowdfund Dartmoor Zoo

In 2008, I wrote the book, We Bought a Zoo, which was later made into the Hollywood film of the same name, starring Matt Damon.

This heartwarming film has touched people all around the world with its message of hope. But inevitably, it only told part of the story.

My entire extended family clubbed together to save this zoo, and to provide a home for my elderly mother. Eight years on, the zoo and the animals are saved, and we have a thriving education and research department. More than 100 university projects have taken place here over the last three years, and we are now studying animal cognition – trying to unlock the secrets of animal minds.

The zoo is safe, but it needs to move forwards and become a charity, like most other zoos.

I need to buy this zoo from my family, so that I can turn it into a charity. No bank will lend money so that you can devalue the land and make it impossible to repossess from a charity.

But a crowd of supporters, each helping to buy a little piece of it, might.

If you support this aim, please buy the e-book below. My last book got made into a film. And buying a zoo the second time around is just as difficult, and just as filled with drama. Believe me; I’m living it now. Click the cover for some exclusive extracts.

The suggested price is £10, but please feel free to pay what you like. I will deliver the book by the Spring.

This amazing zoo has survived and matured over the last 8 years. If you want a tour from the comfort of your own home, choose the Virtual Tour, behind the scenes and up close with the animals, in a way that even visitors to the zoo don’t get to see them. Below you'll find a sneak peak of some of the animals I'll introduce you to on the tour.

Book

Tour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Tour 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Secure the future of Dartmoor Zoo by helping me to complete the process of turning it into a charity. This will give the animals, and everyone at the Zoo, security, and enable us to accomplish our ambition of setting the standard for zoos and become a world-class education and research centre.

Dartmoor Zoo 

About Dartmoor Zoo

Tree down

In 2006 my family, the Mee's, bought Dartmoor Zoo in order to prevent the majority of animals from being destroyed. It seemed an almost impossible task to reopen this broken down place, with its wobbly fences, overcrowded enclosures, and 250 exotic animals to feed. 

It was a leap of faith, but our whole family rose to the challenge, and we managed to reopen the zoo in 2007, despite suffering the tragic loss of my wife, Katherine, to a brain tumour.

Matt Damon and Benjamin Mee

In 2008 I wrote a book, We Bought a Zoo, and astonishingly, our tale of hope in adversity inspired Hollywood director Cameron Crowe to make the heartwarming Hollywood film, We Bought a Zoo, starring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson.

Dartmoor Zoo has come a long, long way since 2006. We’ve worked hard to build up excellent relationships with other zoos, and have now been accepted onto several endangered breeding programs, like the Amur leopard and Sumatran tiger. We teach 3 diplomas in Animal Management on site in partnership with Bicton and Duchy Colleges. We won the Eden TV Attraction of the Year award in 2011 in competition with some of the most prominent zoos in the UK, and have been selected as part of a Government campaign on using zoos as a public health resource for families next year.

The demand from students to study the animals at Dartmoor Zoo is enormous, with 115 Masters and Undergraduate projects completed here in the last three years, to the point where Plymouth University is donating a classroom for 40 students, to be installed this spring. It is a beautiful and sustainable structure, designed with natural and organic geometry to ensure that it sits harmoniously within the landscape, and in itself helps to promote our ideals of sustainability and conservation.

education

The university is also in talks with us about carrying out exciting animal cognition projects on the site, studying what goes on in animal minds. This I hope will have massive implications for the way in which animals and their rights are regarded. This was my background before we bought the zoo, and to say that I am excited about it is an understatement.

I’m having to pinch myself.

MarmosetBest of all, we recently broke through the red tape barrier to acquire marmosets, the first new primates at the zoo for more than a decade. It’s a significant step towards fulfilling the dream of turning this place into a world class research centre for Animal Intelligence.

All these things have just been possible as a family business, battling through two global recessions, and five of the wettest English summers on record.

This experience has shown me that this zoo needs to become a charity, and shift its dependence on seasonal tourists, towards research and education. The process is already well underway.

As a charity, with tax relief and Gift Aid, this place could really thrive.

Now is finally the time to buy the zoo from my family, and complete the transition.

Why Crowdfunding?

crowdfundI tried going to the banks for a conventional mortgage to buy the freehold and then sign the site over to a charity. But after they had finished laughing, they said 'NO!'.

So I decided to try the innovative new way of raising money for causes that people want to see come to fruition: crowdfunding.

Going around the brick wall of the banks, I love this his new concept of funding things that people want to see happen.

If enough people want to see something succeed, they can make it happen, by giving what they can. Even by contributing a small amount, all our supporters around the world can finally help the zoo make it to the next level.

Charitable status is a zoo’s natural habitat. It’s like releasing the zoo into the wild. We will be eligible for grants to help maintain our enclosures and even paths, to help with disabled access.

LynxKeeperI will have less control over it, but the zoo will continue to develop and thrive according to the vision which everyone here shares. It’s safer for the animals, and the people who work here, and will make it possible to continue and develop our work in looking after animals, studying them to make their lives better, here and around the world, and enhancing people’s lives along the way.

People from around the world have been inspired by this story of hope. Now everyone can actively participate in keeping this hope alive.

Join us in this fantastic bid to Crowdfund Dartmoor Zoo.

Every donor will get an electronic copy of my new book, Add to cart: Dartmoor Zoo the follow up to We Bought A Zoo, whether they give £1, or $1000. At a fundraiser for Washington Park Zoo last year, someone did actually bid $1000 dollars for a signed copy of my book. Can anyone beat that? There’s a special VIP reward pack for the five highest bids. Scroll down to learn more about the rewards. Every single donor will also get a digital thank you, along with an mp3 of Vlad chuffing - the noise he makes to say hello, and have their names on a monument which will go at the centre of the zoo to say thank you and remember all those who helped forever.

So what do we need?

Marmoset crowdfunder

To buy the freehold for £1,000,000, I need to raise £1.6m, which includes a staggering £600,000 in taxes and transaction costs.

If we raise more than we need, every penny will be spent on making the zoo better.

If our goal is not reached the donated funds will all contribute towards buying as much of the freehold as possible so that I can turn the zoo into a charity and secure it's future.

 

Projects

Iberian wolfIberian wolfOur favourite international project is our participation with protecting Iberian Wolves, in Spain and Portugal. And it’s not by breeding more wolves to introduce back into the wild.

Participating with Conservation Canines, we’re breeding rare Estrela Mountain dogs to guard the shepherds flocks, which stops the wolves attacking them in the first place. This means that the shepherds don’t set traps or poisons for the wolves, and learn to live alongside them.

Estrela mountain dogWatch out for the arrival of Eva, at Dartmoor Zoo soon. Eva is the first of our breeding Estrela dogs, and her puppies will be going back to Portugal to carry out their vital conservation work in years to come.

You can visit the zoo website to find out in more detail about the projects that we are working on, and those we (hopefully!) plan for the future.

 

Corporate Sponsorships

restaurantElectronics giant Philips have donated £20,000 of dimmable LED lighting for our restaurant, saving us thousands of pounds on maintenance and electricity.

Morgan Sindall recently donated an extra disabled toilet, supplied installed and decorated. This is the kind of practical help we love.

And just this week we have had the excellent news that Toyota GB is sponsoring Dartmoor Zoo with three vehicles, to help continue our joint programme of free outreach sessions to under privileged schools.

It's all go! And we're always open to more corporate partnerships!

Toyota

The rewards

Add to cart: Dartmoor ZooWe have rewards for all price ranges so please give what you can and know that it greatly appreciated. All contributors, as well as the reward they chose, will receive an advance copy of my new ebook, Add to cart: Dartmoor Zoo the follow up to We Bought A Zoo, whether they give £1, or $1000. The book will include this process, so by contributing you're influencing the outcome of it!

VladEvery single donor will also get a digital thank you, along with an mp3 of Vlad chuffing - the noise he makes to say hello, and have their names on a monument which will go at the centre of the zoo to say thank you and remember all those who helped forever.Terms and conditions of the rewards

We aim to deliver all rewards by the estimated delivery dates as stated under the reward. If for an unforeseeable reason this looks likely not to be met, you will be informed of the revised date as soon as possible. 

Any rewards which feature days at the zoo are as stated and do not include travel or expenses. Age restrictions do apply for experiences where the animals are met - minimum age 8.

Sponsorships of the animals and enclosures are for the period of 1 year.

Sponsor an animal

Balena the Raccoon, Jasiri the Lion and Carlos the Iberian Wolf are up now!

DZP Beanie

The Dartmoor Zoo Beanie Hat!

Benjamin Mee is very rarely seen without a beanie hat on! This one specially designed one could be yours.

 

 

 

 T-shirtThe 'I helped buy a zoo online' T-Shirt.

Designed exclusively for this crowdfunding campaign, you can tell everyone that you helped a zoo! You will be contacted regarding the size you would like - sizes available for men, women and children. 

 

 

 

 20 secs t-shirtThe '20 seconds of courage' T-shirt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

tote

'We Bought A Zoo' canvas tote bag

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you!

I’d like to thank everyone who contributes, we can’t do this without you.

So, please get involved and help us now!

You can also help Crowdfund Dartmoor Zoo by spreading the word!

 Tapir smile

 

Rewards

This project offers rewards in return for your donation.

£1 or more

£1 Reward

GIVE WHAT YOU CAN. Every donor will be sent a digital thankyou, an mp3 of Vlad chuffing - the noise he makes to say hello - your name will be included on our monument at the centre of the zoo to say thank you to all those who helped, AND you'll receive a copy of Benjamin's new ebook 'Add to Cart: Dartmoor Zoo', the follow up to 'We Bought A Zoo' which includes the story of this process.

£5 or more

£5 Reward

Dartmoor Zoo picture of Taz. Use this amazing picture of Taz as you wish - screen saver, background image or print off to use as a poster, the choice is yours. With your help she can smile like this every day knowing you care about her future!

£10 or more

32 of 100 claimed

£10 Reward

'We Bought A Zoo' Canvas Tote Bag. Orange canvas tote bag with the words - 'We Bought A Zoo'. Show your support in style! 'Why not?!'

£10 or more

£10 Reward

Picture of the Marmosets at Dartmoor Zoo Use this amazing digital picture of the marmosets - Maya and Maisie, as you wish - screen saver, background image or print off to use as a poster, the choice is yours. You'll also get your name on the thankyou wall, a copy of Benjamin Mee's new ebook, the follow up to 'We Bought A Zoo', AND an mp3 of Vlad chuffing, the noise he makes to say hello!

£15 or more

£15 Reward

Dartmoor Zoo Beanie hat! Benjamin Mee is famous for his beanie hat! And this special one could be yours!

£20 or more

£20 Reward

It's the famous cuddly toy! This super cute and cuddly meerkat wearing an exclusive 'I helped buy a zoo' ribbon could be yours - it comes with a virtual hug to say thank you from us!

£25 or more

£25 Reward

Dartmoor Zoo Digital Tour. Let Benjamin Mee take you around Dartmoor Zoo and introduce you to some of the animals in this digital tour.

£30 or more

£30 Reward

Get the famous cuddly meerkat toy AND the Dartmoor Zoo Digital Tour. Let Benjamin Mee take you around Dartmoor Zoo and introduce you to some of the animals in this digital tour.

£40 or more

15 of 100 claimed

£40 Reward

Josie in the Bluebells - A beautiful limited edition 15" x 10" print of Dartmoor Zoo Lioness Josie sitting in amongst the Bluebells.

£40 or more

£40 Reward

'I helped buy a zoo online' T-Shirt. Let everyone know that you have supported the future of Dartmoor Zoo with this special edition T-Shirt.

£40 or more

£40 Reward

'20 seconds of courage' T-Shirt. Arguably the most famous line from the 'We Bought A Zoo' film is immortalised on this T-Shirt designed exclusively for this campaign. Use your 20 seconds of courage to help save the zoo that that Benjamin Mee said 'Why not?" to helping.

£50 or more

3 of 100 claimed

£50 Reward

'20 seconds of courage' T-Shirt and 'We Bought A Zoo' Canvas Tote Bag. Arguably the most famous line from the film is immortalised on this exclusive limited edition T-shirt, WITH a 'We Bought A Zoo' canvas tote bag! 'Why not?!'

£50 or more

£50 Reward

Personalised signed copy of 'We Bought A Zoo'. Benjamin Mee will sign a copy of his first book, 'We Bought A Zoo' with a personalised message.

£55 or more

£55 Reward

Digital Dartmoor Zoo calendar. 12 digital images of animals who call Dartmoor Zoo home. You can use these images as screen savers or background images on your computer, or print them out at home for 2015.

£85 or more

£85 Reward

Personalised signed copy of 'We Bought A Zoo', a limited edition '20 seconds of courage' T-Shirt' AND Dartmoor Zoo Digital Tour. Let Benjamin Mee take you around Dartmoor Zoo and introduce you to some of the animals in this digital tour.

£85 or more

£85 Reward

Personalised signed copy of the 'We Bought A Zoo' book AND a special edition 'I helped buy a zoo online' T-Shirt.

£150 or more

£150 Reward

Family entry to Dartmoor Zoo for 4 and 4 special edition T-shirts. A family of 4 can visit Dartmoor Zoo for the day and each get a special edition crowdfund Dartmoor Zoo T-Shirt.

£200 or more

1 of 1 claimed

£200 Reward

Sponsor Sita the Cheetah! When you sponsor an animal at Dartmoor Zoo you are helping protect it by securing the future of it's home. You'll get a DZP thank you card from your animal, a picture, a certificate of sponsorship for 2015, AND your name on a thank you board on the side of the enclosure.

£200 or more

1 of 1 claimed

£200 Reward

Sponsor Leslie the Siberian Lynx! When you sponsor an animal at Dartmoor Zoo you are helping protect it by securing the future of it's home. You'll get a DZP thank you card from your animal, a picture, a certificate of sponsorship for 2015, AND your name on a thank you board on the side of the enclosure.

£200 or more

1 of 1 claimed

£200 Reward

Sponsor Xena the meerkat mum! When you sponsor an animal at Dartmoor Zoo you are helping protect it by securing the future of it's home. You'll get a DZP thank you card from your animal, a picture, a certificate of sponsorship for 2015, AND your name on a thank you board on the side of the enclosure.

£200 or more

1 of 1 claimed

£200 Reward

Sponsor Hayley the European Brown Bear. When you sponsor an animal at Dartmoor Zoo you are helping protect it by securing the future of it's home. You'll get a DZP thank you card from your animal, a picture, a certificate of sponsorship for 2015, AND your name on a thank you board on the side of the enclosure.

£200 or more

1 of 1 claimed

£200 Reward

Sponsor Akemi the Raccoon Dog. When you sponsor an animal at Dartmoor Zoo you are helping protect it by securing the future of it's home. You'll get a DZP thank you card from your animal, a picture, a certificate of sponsorship for 2015, AND your name on a thank you board on the side of the enclosure.

£200 or more

1 of 1 claimed

£200 Reward

Sponsor Vlad the Siberian Tiger! When you sponsor an animal at Dartmoor Zoo you are helping protect it by securing the future of it's home. You'll get: a DZP thank you card from your animal, a picture, a certificate of sponsorship for 2015, AND your name on a thank you board on the side of the enclosure.

£200 or more

1 of 1 claimed

£200 Reward

Sponsor Jonsi the Asian short-clawed otter! When you sponsor an animal at Dartmoor Zoo you are helping protect it by securing the future of it's home. You'll get a DZP thank you card from your animal, a picture, certificate of sponsorship for 2015, AND your name on a thank you board on the side of the enclosure.

£200 or more

1 of 1 claimed

£200 Reward

Sponsor Fajita the Capybara! When you sponsor an animal at Dartmoor Zoo you are helping protect it by securing the future of it's home. You'll get a DZP thank you card from your animal, a picture, a certificate of sponsorship for 2015, AND your name on a thank you board on the side of the enclosure.

£200 or more

1 of 1 claimed

£200 Reward

Sponsor Josie the Lioness! When you sponsor an animal at Dartmoor Zoo you are helping protect it by securing the future of it's home. You'll get a DZP thank you card from your animal, a picture, a certificate of sponsorship for 2015, AND your name on a thank you board on the side of the enclosure.

£200 or more

1 of 1 claimed

£200 Reward

Sponsor Timon, the Meerkat dad! When you sponsor an animal at Dartmoor Zoo you are helping protect it by securing the future of it's home. You'll get a DZP thank you card from your animal, a picture, a certificate of sponsorship for 2015, AND your name on a thank you board on the side of the enclosure.

£200 or more

1 of 1 claimed

£200 Reward

Sponsor Chana the Tapir! When you sponsor an animal at Dartmoor Zoo you are helping protect it by securing the future of it's home. You'll get a DZP thank you card from your animal, a picture, a certificate of sponsorship for 2015, AND your name on a thank you board on the side of the enclosure.

£200 or more

1 of 1 claimed

£200 Reward

Sponsor Taz the Tiger! When you sponsor an animal at Dartmoor Zoo you are helping protect it by securing the future of it's home. You'll get a DZP thank you card from your animal, a picture, a certificate of sponsorship for 2015, AND your name on a thank you board on the side of the enclosure.

£200 or more

0 of 1 claimed

£200 Reward

Sponsor Carlos the Iberian Wolf! When you sponsor an animal at Dartmoor Zoo you are helping to protect it by securing it's home. You get: a DZP thank you card from your animal, a picture, a cerfificate of sponsorship and your name on a thank you board on the saide of the enclosure!

£200 or more

0 of 1 claimed

£200 Reward

Sponsor Jasiri the Lion! When you sponsor an animal at Dartmoor Zoo you are helping to protect it by securing it's home. You get: a DZP thank you card from your animal, a picture, a cerfificate of sponsorship and your name on a thank you board on the saide of the enclosure.

£200 or more

0 of 1 claimed

£200 Reward

Sponsor Balena the Raccoon! When you sponsor an animal at Dartmoor Zoo you are helping to protect it by securing it's home. You get: a DZP thank you card from your animal, a picture, a cerfificate of sponsorship and your name on a thank you board on the saide of the enclosure.

£200 or more

1 of 1 claimed

£200 Reward

Sponsor Jay the Vervet Monkey! When you sponsor an animal at Dartmoor Zoo you are helping protect it by securing the future of it's home. You'll get a DZP thank you card from your animal, a picture, a certificate of sponsorship for 2015, AND your name on a thank you board on the side of the enclosure.

£200 or more

0 of 1 claimed

£200 Reward

Sponsor Dorothy the Ostrich! When you sponsor an animal at Dartmoor Zoo you are helping to protect it by securing its home. You'll get a DZP Thank you card from your animal, a picture, a certificate of sponsorship for 2015 AND your name on a thank you board on the side of the enclosure.

£300 or more

0 of 5 claimed

£300 Reward

Skype with Benjamin Mee! Want to meet the man behind Dartmoor Zoo? You can have a conversation face to face through Skype with Benjamin Mee and ask all those questions you never thought you could.

£400 or more

7 of 20 claimed

£400 Reward

Lunch with the Tigers... With this limited edition experience, designed exclusively for those who help in securing the future of the zoo, you and a friend can have lunch with Vlad and Stripe, Dartmoor Zoo's tigers. As part of this you'll get to meet the tigers up close and personal, feed them some tidbits, and lay out their lunch for them in their enclosure before watching them be released for lunch. You will also get to explore the rest of the zoo in your own time, and have lunch included in the jaguar restaurant.

£400 or more

2 of 20 claimed

£400 Reward

Picnic in the Paddock. With this limited edition experience, designed exclusively for those who help in securing the future of the zoo, you and a friend can have a strawberry and cream picnic with the animals in our South American Paddock. You'll put lunch out for the Rhea, Tapir and Capybara, and then eat strawberries and cream in their company. Afterwards you can walk around the zoo in your own time.

£2,000 or more

1 of 1 claimed

£2,000 Reward

Sponsor the Marmoset House, home to Maya and Maisie! When you sponsor an enclosure at Dartmoor Zoo you are helping protect the future of its inhabitants by securing the future of its home, Dartmoor Zoo. You get: a special plaque at the zoo commemorating your sponsorship which includes a picture of your choice. You also will be send a commemorative frame which will include the picture of your choice, a picture of the enclosure, certificate and picture of the animals whose enclosure you are sponsoring.

£2,000 or more

0 of 1 claimed

£2,000 Reward

Sponsor the Cheetah enclosure, home to Sita! When you sponsor an enclosure at Dartmoor Zoo you are helping to protect the future of its inhabitants by securing the future of it's home, Dartmoor Zoo. You get: a special plaque at the zoo commemorating your sponsorship which includes a picture of your choice. You also will be sent a commemorative frame which will include a picture of your choice, a picture of the enclosure, certificate, and a picture of the animal whose enclosure you are sponsoring.

£5,000 or more

0 of 10 claimed

£5,000 Reward

Teambuilding day at Dartmoor Zoo. A corporate day for any number up to 100 people. As part of this unique experience which can be tailored to your requirements, you will partake in team building activities such as getting stuck in around the zoo, an enterprise challenge where you and your team compete in groups to design an enclosure, animal encounters, and catering for the day.

£5,000 or more

£5,000 Reward

Motivational talk from Benjamin Mee. Experienced as a motivational speaker, Benjamin conducts talks for organisations and events to share his inspirational story and help motivate people to persevere, no matter what obstacles are thrown in your way. Benjamin can tailor his talk to your event. Just get him there and he'll do the rest!

£20,000 or more

0 of 1 claimed

£20,000 Reward

Exclusive 4 night half-board stay at Dartmoor Zoo in an airstream caravan for a family of 4. See all that you are helping to save by getting to know Dartmoor Zoo in person. Camp out in an airstream caravan at the heart of the zoo, and experience all that it has to offer. Situated in Devon on the edge of Dartmoor National Park and area of natural beauty, the South Hams, a family of 4 can live in a fully equipped airstream caravan for 4 nights. During your stay breakfast and lunch will be provided at the jaguar restaurant in the heart of the zoo. You will meet the tigers, become a family of keepers for the day taking part in all that the zoo has to offer, you'll have a VIP tour with Benjamin and dinner with he and his family one night and get up close and personal with the animals.

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