Knitting group creates woolly zoo

The Twelve Days of Christmas has been given a makeover -

Zoo trips can often involve seeing some woolly animals - but not as much as a visit to a knitted menagerie created in Paignton, Devon.

A group of 30 zoo volunteers have been knitting away to create The Twelve Animal Days of Christmas Trail at Paignton Zoo since February, producing no less than 78 animals, the Torquay Herald and Express reports.

The collection has some rather different creatures to the ones in the traditional song: Instead of seven swans a-swimming there are seven meerkats munching, the six geese a-laying are replaced by six keepers keeping, the four calling birds make way for four zebras, the three French hens are usurped by a distinctly non-Gallic trio of giraffes, two rhinos take the place of the turtle doves and the partridge has had to give up the prime position in the pear tree in favour of a peacock.

In addition to this, there are no pipers, drummers or milkmaids, with twelve big cats scratching, eleven primates preening, ten snakes a-hissing, nine ranch animals running, eight parrots squawking and five crocodiles instead.

The knitters also created some smaller animals and a number of other items like scarves and pom-poms for International Tree Dressing Day, which was held earlier this month.

Commenting on the project, volunteer co-ordinator Neil Thomas-Childs told the newspaper: "Knitting is a great activity for volunteers during the quieter months of winter - but this turned into an epic, year-long project."

The knitters had some interesting challenges to turn the colourful yarn into the familiar markings of zoo animals, particularly the peacock and the giraffes.

It is not just the Paignton volunteers who have been knitting together some animal magic.

The Nimble Fingers group in Greater Manchester has managed to raise nearly £9,000 for the Alzheimer's Society with a sale of knitted mice. Some of these were knitted by the group, but when member Libby Swindells publicised the "Mile of Mice" project in the Manchester Evening News and on Facebook, knitters all over the world knitted their own mice and sent them over to help the cause - creating a chain of knitted mice that was 1.9 miles long.

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