Comedian calls in at Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park to encourage people to love their local zoo.

Close encounters of the flipper kind: Funnyman Bill Bailey with one of the park sea lions.Close encounters of the flipper kind: Funnyman Bill Bailey with one of the park sea lions.

FUNNYMAN Bill Bailey was met with waiting flippers when he popped into Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park during Love Your Zoo celebrations week.

The well known television comedian enjoyed an encounter with the park's friendly sea lions and lemurs during a visit to show his support for the park.

Bill is an avid supporter of wildlife and has visited the attraction often over the years and has even mentioned it in his stage show.

The Love Your Zoo campaign is promoted by the British and Irish Zoos Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) and aims to encourage people to visit their local zoo.

Bill makes a new friend at Combe Martin Wildlife & Dinosaur Park.Bill makes a new friend at Combe Martin Wildlife & Dinosaur Park.

"Zoos are great places to visit for a fun day out, but on a serious note they are also helping safeguard the future of vulnerable species," said Bill.

"Without you, the visitor, they would be unable to do this. Support your local BIAZA Zoo and have as much fun as I did on my visit to Combe Martin."

The park is involved in breeding programmes with endangered species and has raised thousands of pounds in the last 12 months for the South East Asian Campaign, the Barn Owl Trust and SANCCOB, which is saving African Penguins.

It is also in talks with rescue organisations in Europe to help give a home to animals that have been confiscated by government authorities or animal protection organisations.

Bill makes a new friend at Combe Martin Wildlife & Dinosaur Park.Bill makes a new friend at Combe Martin Wildlife & Dinosaur Park.

"We are grateful Bill Bailey took the time out of his busy schedule to support us as he is currently on tour, so to do this for us on his only day off for months was amazing!" said park director Dawn Gilbert.

"I also want to thank everyone who visited us during Love your Zoo week, especially those that participated in our trails and competitions.

"We feel it is a modern zoos' responsibility to be ambassadors for wildlife by increasing public understanding of species and their welfare. At the same time we want our visitors to have a great day out so we do our best to combine the two by integrating strong educational messages within the park's shows, encounters, displays and talks."

* The park has now picked the winners of the competitions:

Amii James from Ilfracombe will be meeting Morgan the Californian Sea Lion; Margot Scudmore from Tiverton has won a lion feed experience with Lenny and Leo the park African lions; Hamish and Angus Collins from Twickenham have won a Gold Animal Adoption of their choice.