FEEL GOOD | Durban boy surpasses R15k fundraising goal for bird park - and gets special visit on his birthday

Romario Valentine with staff at the Umgeni River Bird Park.
Romario Valentine with staff at the Umgeni River Bird Park.
Delsha Moodley
  • A Durban boy surpassed his goal of raising R15 000 for the Umgeni River Bird Park, reaching more than R20 000 by the weekend.
  • Romario Valentine received a certificate of excellence and spent some time with his beloved birds for his birthday celebration.
  • Praise was internationally sung for the youngster who is passionate about nature conservation.

Nine-year-old Romario Valentine from Durban exceeded his own R15 000 goal of helping to fund the Umgeni River Bird Park after raising more than R20 000.

The youngster was invited to the popular bird park over the weekend after he raised awareness for the financially strained sanctuary which has been hard hit since the Covid-19 lockdown began in late March.

He enjoyed his ninth birthday celebrations at the park after he was invited by curator Tarryn Bristow on Saturday and was presented with a certificate of excellence by the Education and Awareness Programme co-ordinator, Grant Aggett-Cox.

"He was overwhelmed," Romario's mother, Delsha Moodley, told News24 on Monday.

ALSO READ | Local preschool makes Covid-19 safety measures Bear(able) with cuddly secret weapon

She said her son was taken on a short-guided tour, making his birthday wish come true. He had a chance to see a galah cockatoo, called George, up close.

Romario was also showed a hamerkop's nest close to the park's waterfall. These birds have returned to the park during the lockdown after more than 20 years.

When he left, he received a fluttering ovation from the resident macaws and white cockatoos, including a "hello" and bobble head dance from one of them.

A proud Romario Valentine with his certificate of
Romario Valentine with his certificate of appreciation from the Umgeni River Bird Park
Supplied Delsha Moodley
Romario Valentine, a big fan of nature and birds w
Romario Valentine with staff and a bird at the Umgeni River Bird Park
Supplied Delsha Moodley
9-year-old Romario Valentine raised over R20 000 f
Romario Valentine with staff at the Umgeni River Bird Park.
Supplied Delsha Moodley

Moodley said even she was overwhelmed by the birds' reaction.

"I was overwhelmed by that. We just want people to try to support the bird park."

By Sunday, Romario, ably assisted by his mother, raised R20 698.62. The campaign will remain open until the end of the week should last minute well-wishers want to contribute to the campaign.

"Thank you to my parents and everyone who shared and supported my bird conservation campaign and Umgeni River Bird Park who gave me the opportunity to assist. Together, we have helped the birds," the elated boy said.

READ | UFS lecturer becomes third African to win international nursing award

Moodley added she was proud of her son.

"I have been in contact with Tarryn and she said they have received a lot of calls from overseas people. The campaign spread internationally. The bird park houses many birds from all over the globe."

He thought it was a joke

She said Romario first thought she was joking when she told him they would spend time at the park, which has been closed since the outbreak of the coronavirus.

"He first thought I was joking, it became a reality when we went to the actual bird park. He is quite a joker and he thought I was pulling his leg. When we were at the bird park he was anxious, but he was so overwhelmed when he saw the birds."

Moodley added her family had been supporting charitable organisations and wildlife for many years.

"I started when I was 14 doing things like that. It is something we do naturally. We cannot go to people for money, but through the crowdfunding, we found a way to reach out to family and friends to contribute and market the bird park."

She added: "They do such an amazing job. You can never see all the countries in the world, but at the bird park, you can get a taste of it."

If you want to donate money to the bird park, visit here.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
Voting Booth
President Ramaphosa has punted the idea of mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations for South Africans. This is:
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
The right thing to do. We desperately need more South Africans vaccinated to prevent further mutations and restore normality in our lives.
71% - 10570 votes
A risky strategy. Compulsory vaccinations may have unintended consequences and damage our rollout campaign.
29% - 4259 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.