Fun at Shepreth Wildlife Park for children with rare genetic condition

Families at Shepreth Wildlife Park

Families at Shepreth Wildlife Park - Credit: Archant

More than 100 children with complex medical conditions and their families were treated to special day out at Shepreth Wildlife Park on Sunday.

The event 22Q At The Zoo was organised by the Max Appeal -– a charity that supports children and families with genetic condition 22q11 Deletion Syndrome.

Rail company Great Northern sponsored the event with free rail travel and entry to the wildlife park.

Train driver Mark Tripp, whose son Adam has the condition, said: “When Adam was first diagnosed we went to a 22Q At The Zoo event and it really helped us as a family.

“We were quite numb at the time but here were 150 people all there for the same reason, and our children could meet and play with one another.

“We were able to find somewhere quiet at lunchtime where we could get together and learn from other people’s experiences.”

In preparation for the event, more than 35 contractors from Great Northern gave their time for free in a recent ‘Ground Force’ style makeover.

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During the redecoration project, the workers got the wildlife park ready by repainting about 1km of fences, replacing sections of public barriers around the big cats, dredging out Monkey Island Lake, repainting Meerkat Manor and painting enclosures in the Native Species Woodland and on Marmoset Island.

The workforce was able to achieve in one day what the team at the park would have expected to take six weeks to complete.

Max Appeal chief executive Julie Wootton said: “This is such a special day out for our families and this year was a great success.

“Children with autism, which is a typical symptom of the condition, respond well to animals, which have a calming influence.

“We couldn’t do this without the kind support of Great Northern and Shepreth Wildlife Park and are very grateful for their support.”