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26th Jun, 2022

Former zookeeper prepares to run half marathon - in a rhino costume

A FORMER zookeeper is preparing for a half-marathon with a wild twist.

Amber Bence, an animal management tutor at Moreton Morrell College, is hoping to raise at least £1,000 for the Save the Rhino charity by taking on the Hackney Half-Marathon in full rhino costume.

And students helped Amber to get a headstart on her fund-raiser by joining her for a 5k run.

The group is aiming to raise £500, to be added to the total amount generated by Amber when she takes part in the 13-mile race later this year.

The students were keen to take part in the charity run after studying modules on Zoological Health and Husbandry and Wildlife Conservation and Ecology, led by Amber, and have been inspired to continue their activism after graduation.

Amber said: “As part of their studies, students have been learning about the impacts that humans have had on the planet whilst researching what conservation projects and charities are out there that help to protect certain species and habitats.

“I used to be a zoo keeper looking after Southern White Rhinos and now teach about their needs within the captive environment in the zoo module and their plight in the wildlife module, so running in a rhino costume seemed like a perfect challenge that my students could get behind.

“I have run half marathons, full marathons and an Ultramarathon before but this was a completely different challenge for me. It is so difficult running in the costume – you have to hold the head up, which is extremely heavy and can easily get stuck in a tree or two, while your vision is restricted.

“I definitely need to practice from now until September, so it was great to have the students alongside me for support on my first attempt. They all ran extremely well considering its quite a challenging route but stars of the day were Poppy Groomsbridge, who raised the most and ran the whole course after only starting to run a few weeks ago and Erin Turner, who is also new to running and finished the course in just 30 minutes.”

As part of their wildlife conservation studies, the students will have the opportunity to go on a study tour to Greece, where they will participate in a turtle conservation project.

The expedition is designed to give the students an invaluable experience and enhance their practical skills ahead of a career in conservation.

Visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/amber-bence1 to donate to Amber’s cause.

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