The matriarch of Paignton Zoo died at the age of 49. Born in 1970, she came to Paignton Zoo in 1977 and for many years lived with female Asian elephant Gay. Duchess collapsed in her enclosure on Sunday 14th July and had to be put to sleep.
Zoo spokesperson Phil Knowling said: “The enormous, immediate and heartfelt public response prompted us to think about how we should remember her. Duchess was here for over 40 years; she was the matriarch of Paignton Zoo.
“We’ve decided to commission a memorial artwork. Over the years, hundreds of thousands of people encountered Duchess at Paignton Zoo, were charmed by her and inspired by her. For that reason, we’ve decided to ask the public to help us."
“We’re going to invite artists to submit ideas for designs. We’re launching a public crowdfunding campaign so that people can contribute to and feel part of the project. We’re putting together a panel of people, including keepers who knew Duchess better than anyone, to choose a suitable design and location for the memorial.”
The Virgin Money Giving page is: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/DuchessMemorialCampaign. If more money is raised through donations than is needed, then the surplus will be channelled into the charity’s conservation project in Nigeria, where elusive forest elephants roam the Omo Forest Reserve.
“Art is a lovely way to remember her. We hope we can make it interactive and thoroughly touchable, and that we can tie in conservation and advocacy, perhaps through the use of recycled materials. There are all sorts of possibilities."
In addition, there will be a memorial plaque in the gallery of the large mammal house. Monumental masons Allwood of Totnes have generously donated a granite tablet. Paignton Zoo is a registered charity. To donate to the memorial campaign, please go to: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/DuchessMemorialCampaign