A GIANT panda lover has raised more than £1,100 so her favourite animal can join in her birthday celebrations.
Matilda Mae Croft hosted a raffle with prizes from companies across Solihull, Birmingham and Warwickshire on Facebook, with a little bit of help from her mum Michelle, to raise the funds for Guang and Tian Tian – the giant pandas at Edinburgh Zoo.
The eight-year-old initially set out to raise £55 to pay for a special cake to be made for them, which they could enjoy on her birthday in June.
The Shirley Heath School pupil added Guang and Tian Tian to her long list of favourite pandas after watching them eating, sleeping and playing on the web cam set up by the zoo during the first lockdown.
Michelle said: “I found the fundraising to be a lot more hard work than I anticipated, but I absolutely enjoyed every single minute of it.
“It was so lovely to work along side Matilda whilst raising money for the giant pandas and her chosen charity RZSS at Edinburgh Zoo.
“What started out as a small target of £55 for a special cake for the pandas quickly turned into £1,120.
“The local businesses that donated raffle prizes have been extremely generous with their support.
“Matilda is extremely proud of herself as am I along with her father and two brothers.”
Matilda is hopeful she will be able to see the giant pandas before they leave the zoo next year.
Guang and Tian Tian arrived at Edinburgh Zoo in 2011 as part of an arrangement between the zoo’s charity and the China Wildlife Conservation Association.
Caring for the pair costs £35,000 each month.
David Field, chief executive at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland said: “We would like to say a giant thank you to Matilda and her mum for the amazing £1,000 they have raised for our wildlife conservation charity.
“These funds will not only feed our two giant pandas Yang Guang and Tian Tian and the rest of the animals in our care but help save threatened species around the world.
“Hopefully we can welcome Matilda here at the zoo over the summer so she can see Yang Guang and Tian Tian.”