A CAMPAIGN to raise money for cash-strapped zoos is gaining steam as more top-level athletes pledge their support.

Halstead children’s author Josie Dom, 49, is spearheading the Animalympics campaign.

It sees athletes reading their sport’s verse from Josie’s poem Animalympics.

People can see the readings in exchange for a donation to her GoFundMe campaign.

Donors will be emailed a daily video covering the Animalympics in place of the expected Olympics coverage, which was cancelled due to coronavirus and would have started last Thursday.

The funds raised will be used to support struggling zoos across the UK, including Colchester.

So far, the campaign has raised more than £418.

Josie has already teamed up with a number of sports stars, including 12-year-old junior BMX world champion Freia Challis, from Halstead.

Now the author had added more athletes to her campaign, including many from the Halstead area.

They include Imogen Newby, a Halstead-based national archery champion and potential 2024 Team GB member, and Oliver Swallow, a national and international level triathlete.

Other names include Daisy Partridge, a Sible Hedingham-based 2019 Eastern Counties javelin champion, 1993 and 1994 English karate champion Colin Plumb and Josephine Larkins, a top hammer thrower from Bocking.

So far, 12 athletes have recorded videos for the campaign with a further 13 athletes, commentators and TV presenters committed to taking part.

Josie’s latest project is a poem about what happens when the Olympics is cancelled and the animal kingdom steps up to compete instead.

She said: “After I wrote the Animalympics poem, I saw that it could be used to help zoos, and started asking sports people to get involved.

“I am totally awestruck by the response I have had with so many important sports people saying yes and reading their sport’s verse”

“I’m putting the videos together this week so that they can be sent out to donors as a daily bulletin, which I hope they enjoy in place of getting Olympics news.”

The poem was inspired during the coronavirus lockdown when Josie’s daughter discovered sloths were good swimmers, which soon got the author’s creative juices flowing.

Josie added: “I soon got plotting with my family which animals would be great at the particular Olympic sports.”

“The result is an epic poem with buffalo playing football, orangutans playing tennis and Woodpecker Will organising the whole thing.”

n For more informantion about the campaign, visit gofundme.com/f/animalympics-helps-zoos.