Village gardens transformed into zoo by Essex animal lover

Alice has more than a dozen animals on display outside her house Picture: ALICE SIMPSON

Alice has more than a dozen animals on display outside her house Picture: ALICE SIMPSON - Credit: Archant

One animal lover is turning her village into a ‘zoo’ to raise money for Colchester Zoo during the coronavirus lockdown.

Lousia the leopard is part of Birch's zoo trail - organiser Alice Simpson hopes it will inspire othe

Lousia the leopard is part of Birch's zoo trail - organiser Alice Simpson hopes it will inspire other people to display their animals Picture: ALICE SIMPSON - Credit: Archant

Alice Simpson, of Greenfield Houses in the Essex village of Birch, is one of Colchester Zoo’s biggest fans, visiting every couple of weeks with her eight-year-old niece Leah and three-year-old nephew Jaxson.

Since its closure and ongoing funding troubles, Alice is now bringing the zoo to the village herself, filling her front garden and windows with animals for local children to spot on their daily walks.

Alice Simpson has filled her front hedge and windows with animals for children to spot on their dail

Alice Simpson has filled her front hedge and windows with animals for children to spot on their daily walks in her village of Birch, near Colchester Picture: ALICE SIMPSON - Credit: Archant

“I love the zoo so much and love living so close to it, now it’s quieter I can sometimes hear the lion’s roar from my house,” she said.

“I miss making memories there with my niece and nephew and I wanted to do something to support the place that was so important to me, so I came up with this for the children in my village.

Birch Zoo is spreading across the UK, with some homes across Colchester joining in - and one animal

Birch Zoo is spreading across the UK, with some homes across Colchester joining in - and one animal lover in Scotland as well Picture: ALICE SIMPSON - Credit: Archant


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“All you have to do is put your teddies or your stuffed animals outside your house and some information about them and you can join in.”

Among the animals are collection dishes where those passing can leave some change that will be donated to Colchester Zoo.

Each animal comes with a handy factsheet full of interesting information Picture: ALICE SIMPSON

Each animal comes with a handy factsheet full of interesting information Picture: ALICE SIMPSON - Credit: Archant

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Alice added: “We already have a turtle, jellyfish, rhino, owl, leopard, racoon, monkey, a snail and a dog in our zoo.”

A Facebook group called Zoo Trail, which already has more than 150 members, is full of more pictures of families joining in with the project and links to donate to the zoo online.

Almost a dozen homes in the village are taking part in the zoo trail to raise money for Colchester Z

Almost a dozen homes in the village are taking part in the zoo trail to raise money for Colchester Zoo while it is closed during the coronavirus pandemic Picture: ALICE SIMPSON - Credit: Archant

There are now almost a dozen houses with animals and fun facts outside in Birch, with some houses in Colchester joining in and one far flung friend in Scotland joining in with the fun.

If you would like to give some money to the Colchester Zoo Operating fund, click here for more information.

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