Save The Tropical Zoo From Extinction

Bristol to Hounslow: 112 miles - One Man and His Trike: How Long Will It Take?

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Local people will be aware that the much-loved  Tropical Zoo is having to move from its home at Syon Park when its lease expires in September this year. Subject to agreement and planning permission, it will move to a new purpose-built building next to the Urban Farm in Feltham

Jon Hardy and bike

 “I would dearly have liked this unique facility to stay in the Brentford/ isleworth area” says (ex-Cllr) Jon Hardy,” but at least this keeps it in the Borough.  The Tropical Zoo is a unique resource not only to Hounslow but to West London and beyond: they play host to some 16,000 school kids each year (apart from casual visitors) and the way they bring get them up-close with the animals is nothing short of inspiring.”

Many will have seen owner Alice Purdy on BBC News recently ( ) in an emotional appeal for help in plugging the £350K shortfall they have in their budget for the move.  Jon Hardy is proposing cycle his recumbent trike from Bristol to Hounslow – a distance of 112 miles -  to help raise some of this money.  But he is NOT going to ask anyone to sponsor him!  “Sponsorship is so last year” says Jon,

Jon Hardy and bike“I have no idea how long this ride will take me, no idea even if either the trike or I will make it, so I thought we could have a bit of fun with that.  For every £1 donation to the Tropical Zoo’s appeal people will be given an opportunity to guess what finishing time will be (more £s more guesses) – it could be anywhere between 9 hours or 20, and the person who chooses the closest second to my actual time as I cross the line in Market Square, Brentford after a final pit stop in Hounslow High Street will win a big prize – we now have quite a raft of prizes including a case of wine, a family season ticket to Brentford FC, a annual pass to the Tropical Zoo for two, a hamper, a meal for two at a local eatery and a bottle of vodka with a scorpion in it!”

The marathon trike-ride will be on July 17th: “I may like pina coladas but I hate getting caught in the rain: I’d prefer some fine weather” says Jon.

This time last year Jon scuba-dived in the Zoo’s piranha tank to raise awareness of the Zoo’s plight but thinks this might be even more foolhardy than that.  “WiZZ bikes, who keep my trike on the road, have told me it’s a  heap of junk – apparently the back wheel isn’t really round -  but it’s the 52 year old ‘engine’ that really worries them!”

You can pledge a donation to the Tropical Zoo and make a guess of Jon’s finishing time for every £1 you donate at

Jon has bi-lateral vestibular failure: the semi-circular canals in the inner ear which control balance have died leaving Jon with no sense of balance; put him in a dark room and he will fall over.  Previously a keen cyclist Jon is no longer able to ride a bike as he kept falling off; he bought the trike off Ebay for £170 but has had to spend over £250 keeping it on the road.  It was originally built by prison officers but not very well.


July 2, 2010

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