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Paignton volunteers: We knitted a zoo

By HEHannahFinch  |  Posted: December 14, 2013

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Volunteer knitters in Paignton have created an entire woolly zoo for Christmas.

The marvellous menagerie is part of the festive celebrations at Paignton Zoo.

The Twelve Animal Days of Christmas Trail features twelve big cats scratching, eleven primates preening, ten snakes a-hissing, nine ranch animals running, eight parrots squawking, seven meerkats munching, six keepers keeping, five crocodiles, four zebras, three giraffe, two rhinoceros and a peacock in a Christmas tree.

The 78 knitted figures were made by thirty volunteers - some of them new to knitting. Volunteer Coordinator Neil Thomas-Childs said: “Knitting is a great activity for volunteers during the quieter months of winter – but this turned into an epic, year-long project.”

The idea came about after the Zoo held craft workshops for volunteers during the quieter winter months.

One of the subjects was knitting.

Neil said: “We yarn bombed a tree at Living Coasts early this year. Once they’d started the volunteers really got the knitting bug. I came up with the idea of knitting animals for ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ and they whole-heartedly agreed”

Volunteers started knitting in February. “I had to keep a chart to show who was knitting which animals! They knitted both in the Zoo and at home. It went a bit quiet during the summer months, when they were busy volunteering in the Zoo, then the knitting started again in early October.”

They mainly used patterns; the peacock proved to be the biggest challenge - they had to adapt a pattern for a giraffe to make the neck and head, while one volunteer created the body and feathers and a second crocheted the eyes for the tail.

As well as the 78 large animals for the main trail, they made many smaller animals, lengths of festive chain, scarves, pom-poms and decorations for International Tree Dressing Day at the start of December.

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