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Volunteers join the monkeys’ willow harvest

There was no monkeying around for electricity workers when they mucked in with the willow harvest at Howletts Wild Animal Park near Canterbury.

From Press releases - 25 June 2019 12:00 AM

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Fourteen staff from UK Power Networks joined Friday’s unusual harvest, stripping the willow to provide leafy winter food reserves for the park’s hungry primates.

The team, whose work helps to keep the lights on in Kent, got involved through UK Power Networks’ volunteering scheme, Donate a Day, which gives the company’s 6,000 staff two days paid leave each year to volunteer in their local communities.

Sarah Harper, primate keeper at Howletts, said: “They worked hard. I was impressed they had cleared such a big area. We have a lot of langur species and 90% of their natural diet consists of leaves, which is more difficult to replicate in captivity.

“Our wood men coppice the willow branches during the winter and we cut the leaves throughout the summer. We harvest lots of willow and we have to strip off all the leaves, so they can be frozen. We strip the leaves and pack them into bags so they will be ready to give out to the leaf-eating monkeys during the winter.”

Alan Archer, asset engineer at UK Power Networks, said: “We picked two weeks of foliage for the animals, so staff were pleased and it freed them up to do other important work.

“Having the opportunity to volunteer at such a special place was a privilege and it was a chance for us to give something back to our community. We saw elephants in our lunch break and at the end of the day we watched Colobus monkeys being fed with our leaves, which was very satisfying.”