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13.07.2004 General News

Calgary Zoo raises $12,000 for school in Ghana

By Calgary Sun

CALGARY (CP) -- Hippo-sized help from the Calgary Zoo is enabling a tiny African community to build its first school.

Zoo officials presented a cheque for $12,000 to John Mason, executive director of the Nature Conservation Research Centre in Accra, Ghana, on Monday for a school in that area's Lobi community.

"Any children in that community have to walk two villages away to go to school," Mason said of the 70 or so young children in the area. "As a result, many children in that community have no education at all."

Mason spearheaded the Wechiau Hippo Sanctuary in Ghana, aimed at protecting the population of hippos in the Black Volta river.

While in Ghana last year, Heather Graham, wife of Calgary Zoo president Alex Graham, was determined to find a way to make the school a reality. She began a national sale of African plush animals with $10 from each animal going toward the school.

Graham was able to raise $6,000 and the Calgary Zoo is contributing another $6,000. That is about half of what will be needed to build the three-room school complete with desks, blackboards and a teacher.

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