A FORMER councillor is getting on his trike this weekend in a bid to save the endangered Tropical Zoo at Brentford's Syon Park.
Jon Hardy, of Amhurst Gardens, Isleworth, will set off from Bristol to Brentford tomorrow (Saturday, July 17). The 52-year-old hopes the marathon ride will help raise awareness of the attraction's plight and bring in some of the estimated £350,000 needed to keep it running.
The zoo, which is home to hundreds of exotic creatures, many of which have been rescued by staff at Heathrow's Animal Reception Centre, has been based at Syon Park for years.
But the popular attraction, which welcomes some 60,000 visitors a year, is due to be booted out of the park to make way for the new Hilton Hotel being built there.
The zoo's lease runs out in September and although staff are in discussions with the park's owner the Duke of Northumberland about a possible extension, they remain in a race against time to save the animals.
Owners have found a potential new home opposite Hounslow Urban Farm but planning permission has yet to be granted and they are still about £350,000 short of their £1.2 million fundraising target to pay for the move.
Rather than asking for sponsorship, Mr Hardy is challenging supporters to guess how long it will take him to complete the trip, with a suggested donation of £1 a go. Prizes for the best guesses include a £100 dinner voucher and an annual family pass to the zoo.
"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," said Mr Hardy. "It could take anywhere between nine hours and 20, and the person who chooses the closest second to my actual time as I cross the line in Brentford town centre will win a big prize."
This is not the first crazy challenge Mr Hardy has taken on in a bid to save the zoo - last year he scuba dived in a tank full of piranhas.
You can post your guesses (in hours, minutes and seconds) and make a donation online at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternatively, you can cheer on Mr Hardy and make a donation in person tomorrow at the Treaty Centre, Hounslow, or Brentford High Street, where he is expected to arrive between 2pm and 4pm.