VISITORS to Dudley Zoo are being urged to vote for their preferred conservation project to help endangered and obscure species.

The zoo will support projects to help the Tasmanian devil, the helmeted hornbill and the pangolin , but which project receives the most money is up to visitors who add a voluntary Gift Aid donation to their entrance fee.

Throughout 2019 all Gift Aid-donating visitors will be given a token to insert into one of three boxes in the Safari Shop.

By the end of the year, the box with the most counters will receive a £2,000 donation each year for five years, while the other two conservation projects will each get a one-off payment of £1,000.

Funds for the Tasmanian devil programme will help to support genetic research and promote captive breeding to restock devil numbers, after they have been threatened with extinction due to devil facial tumour disease.

The scheme for the helmeted hornbill will help prevent hunting of their casques and bills for ornamental purposes.

The project for the pangolin, which is the world’s most illegally trafficked animal for food and traditional medicines, aims to help change international legislation.

Chris Leeson, Conservation Officer at the zoo, said: "Dudley Zoo already does a lot to help the wild cousins of species we house at the zoo through fundraising on various awareness days throughout the year.

“In fact last year, thanks to the generosity of our visitors and donations from the zoo, we pulled in more than £7,000 for conservation work around the globe. But, as a modern zoo, we also feel it’s important to help animals we don’t have here, creatures which are rarely kept in captivity."

He added: “The three species we plan to support are extremely endangered, perhaps many people may not even have heard of them, but we wanted to shine a light on more obscure creatures which need our help.”

The expansion of the Sumatran tiger enclosure and a scheme to return brown bears to the iconic Bear Ravine are projects which were voted for by visitors.