The team at Drusillas Zoo in Sussex were shocked and appalled to discover that two of their meerkat topiary sculptures, designed by local school children, have been stolen from the roundabout at the entrance to the Park.

Passers-by driving through Alfriston have delighted in seeing the giant wild animals outside the zoo, in the topiary installation depicting a group of meerkats, penguins and lemurs which was unveiled in March 2022.

The project was a collaboration between National Highways, Drusillas Park, and Alfriston School – with children asked to submit drawings of what they wanted to see on the roundabout. A number of the children’s designs used animals from the Park, which inspired Drusillas’ final design, who they commissioned Agrumi Topiary Art to bring to life.

Managing Director, Cassie Poland, commented on the theft: “It is utterly dreadful to learn that someone would steal something that was meant for the community. The children involved in the project will be heartbroken when they hear that something they worked hard on, and were really proud of, has been taken away from them.”

“The roundabout sculptures bring smiles to the faces of local families driving past and we know that the children from Alfriston School especially enjoyed seeing their creations proudly displayed for all to see.”

“We believe the theft took place in the last 4-5 days, and on inspection of the area it appears that the metal bases have been sawn or cut to remove the sculptures, so if feels like this was planned.”

“We are now appealing for those responsible to come forward, do the right thing, and return our stolen meerkats, either directly or anonymously – we just want to see them returned.”

In an effort to see the meerkats returned to their home, Drusillas is offering a reward of four Annual Memberships to anyone who offers information that directly leads to the return of their property.

Agrumi Topiary Art commented on the process of creating the custom pieces: “The sculptures were all constructed from Agrumi’s custom-built workshop in the New Forest. Our head topiary artist firstly created the metal armature forms by carefully bending lots of pieces of metal by hand into the shape of each animal. Then, the whole workshop team worked to cover these forms in artificial foliage. This is a slow process as each section of foliage is correctly cut to size to suit the shape and angle of the animal’s features.”

National Highways route manager for the south east Peter Phillips, spoke about the project when it was installed in March 2022: “When National Highways carries out upgrades to a network, we become part of the community we are improving. That’s why we were delighted to partner Drusillas Zoo and local schools, who also wanted to contribute their thoughts on what should be on the roundabout at Lewes. This green sculpture is a glowing example of how a topiary like this can improve the local spaces of people living and working near our roads. Hopefully it will also inspire generations to come.”

If you have any information on the whereabouts of the missing meerkats, please contact Drusillas Park on 01323 874100 or email info@drusillas.co.uk