Tasmanian devils, helmeted hornbills, and pangolins! Relax, of course Dudley isn't getting those animals, but what they are doing is launching a vote to let the public decide which one of three conservation projects, each focusing on one of the above animals, the zoo should support. People who add the voluntary 10% Gift Aid donation to their entrance fee will be given a token to allow them to vote for one of three options... Option 1: The Save the Tasmanian Devil Programme - "Threatened with extinction from Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD), funds would help monitor current devil populations, preserve two healthy groups on isolated islands, support genetic research and promote captive breeding to restock devil numbers." Option 2: The Helmeted Hornbill Working Group - "To help prevent hunting of their casques and bills for ornamental purposes, funding would encourage local communities to create larger protected areas and introduce better law enforcement to crack down on the illegal trade in Asia." Option 3: The IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist Group - "As the world's most illegally trafficked animal for food and traditional medicines donations would aid conservation research, create wild strongholds, change international legislation and help re-educate communities that consume pangolin by-products." The vote will last all year and votes will be counted after the 31st December deadline. The conservation project with the most votes will receive a donation of £10,000 (£2k per year for five years) and the other two projects will each get a one-off donation of £1,000. Conservation donation - Dudley Zoological Gardens I'm very relieved that the zoo isn't doing another enclosure vote this year, and it's nice that there is finally a vote at Dudley where all three options are urgent . Personally, in my ignorance I wouldn't know which option to vote for. I wouldn't know which of these three equally vital conservation projects is more in need of funds. I'd perhaps naively hope that the Australian government and some of their excellent zoos would have option 1 covered, so that leaves me pondering between options 2 and 3. It also leaves me feeling slightly uneasy about deciding which project, and therefore animal, is more 'worthy'. However, therein lies the beauty of this vote, it makes you think, because deciding which project to support is something that everybody, and every zoo, does. No individual person, or zoo, donates to every vital conservation project on the planet. My initial reaction was why don't they just split the money three ways and give £4,000 to each project, but there aren't just those three projects in the world; there're hundreds of them. Another reason why I like this vote is because it highlights to the general public the plight of these animals, animals that most people may never have heard of before, as well as the conservation projects out there fighting for their survival. And it's nice seeing zoo's supporting and increasing the awareness of animals that aren't held by them. A further positive is that people who may not have ever given money to in-situ conservation projects before will feel like they are donating directly to these projects and feel more connected to them. Zoos often say that when you visit them your money is going towards animal conservation projects, but you never really know how much or what these projects are. I think this vote makes things much more transparent.