Staff from DZG kept a royal date when they attended a VIP reception at Westminster Cathedral.
Chief Executive Peter Suddock, Head of Media and Communications Jill Hitchman and Senior Presenter David Riley were presented to HRH The Duchess of Cornwall at the British Food Fortnight event.
They also compared foodie notes with BBC TV cooks, Hairy Bikers Dave Myers and Si King, before tucking into a traditional afternoon tea prepared by youngsters from London¹s Olympics borough Forest Gate, with a little help from the country’s leading chefs.
Peter Suddock said: “British Food Fortnight annually promotes the wide and excellent range of foods available across Britain.
“We were the first zoo to participate in its eight-year-history and organisers were so impressed with our efforts they invited us to the royal reception to talk about our campaign.
“We took part in British Food Fortnight because we know just how important it is to buy British and we¹ve been doing it for the past 73 years! Since the zoo was founded in 1937 we have sourced locally-grown food, bought from suppliers on our doorstep, and opted for seasonal produce wherever possible.
“There are more than 1,500 animals at Dudley Zoo, representing 168 species and that’s a lot of mouths to feed.
“Our annual food bill tops £90,000 or roughly £1,750 a week, and we have to find those funds regardless of a poor season or low visitor figures, so we really do have to get the best possible value for money, which is why we buy British.”
Dudley Zoo’s collection includes some of the rarest animals in the world – Asiatic lions, Sumatran tigers and a 70-strong colony of Humboldt penguins and they’ve got huge appetites.
Peter added: “We buy soft fruits and vegetables from Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire; cereals from Staffordshire and meat from a Midlands wholesaler. All on the doorstep and all suppliers with whom we have built up strong relationships. We support them year on year and are proud to be part of such a team.
“Our food has to be the finest and freshest, it’s a myth that animals will eat leftovers and stale food; in the wild they are used to picking from the tree. Try offering a withered apple to an Orang Utan then duck as he gives it back!
“Our freshest food is fish which arrives from Grimsby within a few hours of being caught. If we use older fish our sealions suffer upset tums same goes for any of the animals if their food is not of the utmost freshness.
“It is vital our animals receive a balanced diet and we make sure they get it with seasonal produce that may not be available in their native lands but which supplies the necessary dietary requirements and offers a wider variety throughout the year.”
Peter added: “The reception was a fantastic experience and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall was very interested in the zoo’s commitment and talked about some of the species within our collection, and the Hairy Bikers have promised to make a private visit, so we’re going to try to persuade them to cook for us!”
Organiser Alexia Robinson said: “British Food Fortnight is a richer event with Dudley Zoo’s participation which offered some of my favourite activities from eight years of running it.
“It was utterly brilliant and their speech conveyed that perfectly – oh, to be an animal at Dudley Zoo!”
CAPTIONS: TOP: Hairy Bikers Dave Myers and Si King share a st