Belfast Telegraph

Not a bird, or a plane; Zooperman to the rescue

By Dave Whelan

Being a superhero can be a cagey affair, especially when your neighbours are lions and tigers and bears...

For visitors at Belfast Zoo last week the rare species lurking in enclosure 38 may not have looked completely comfortable in its natural habitat but for Finaghy man David Capper, better known as Zooperman, it was all in aid of a good cause.

As part of a drive to raise money for the Northern Ireland Children's Hospice Mr Capper spent five days in the north Belfast enclosure receiving regular feeds from zookeepers and playing up to the visiting cameras.

Like many of the other species cared for by the zoo, David was allowed to have a few home comforts and a source of entertainment in the form of a sheltered bed and blanket, a chair and even a swingball set.

Asked if he'd invited the cheetah in the next enclosure in for a game the brave hero said that he'd managed to avoid visiting that side of the enclosure "just in case".

Mr Capper has had great success raising money for the NI Hospice in the past and last year took part in the Jailbreak drive, where over £3,500 was raised before imprisoned volunteers were released from Crumlin Road Gaol.

"Just to run the hospice for a year costs £3 million and even £30 can pay a carer to help these children for an hour, it's a case where every penny really does count and I try to do what I can to help raise funds," he said.

"Last year I was involved in the NI Hospice Jailbreak and it was a great cause but I felt that there was no real hardship involved. That's why I decided to spend five days up here in the wilderness."

Anyone who has been camping in the countryside can testify to the nocturnal din of cattle, birds and other animals but surprisingly, David was spared the twilight terrors.

"You'd think that night time would be scary and filled with strange noises but it was actually very peaceful and quiet.

"Sometimes you could hear the monkeys or some other strange noises but I never got the urge to investigate or invite them in for company.

"It was extremely busy with visitors popping in to say hello and and children getting photos with the ugliest being in the zoo and hopefully we can continue to raise essential money for a great cause."

When asked whether Zooperman would be hanging up his cape for a while David smiled and hinted towards plans already being discussed for another adventure.

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