Hi everyone! I’m Bex from Twycross Zoo in the Midlands, UK and in late November I made my way to Hong Kong for an unforgettable trip with Ocean Park. In the 2.5 weeks spent with the education department, I attached to various teams within and observed a wide variety of programmes – it was a fascinating insight into how we can educate in different settings, for example team building days, animal encounters, school visits, camps, fun days, pre-school clubs, interactive exhibits and narration – to name but a few! Marion Cabrol from Amneville joined me for the adventure too. It was nice sharing the experience with someone else from another zoo and meant we could compare notes.
Particular highlights for me were visiting the Learning & Teaching Expo at HKCEC, participating in a WAZA Nature Play event, observing a range of school programmes, exploring the very immersive exhibits, experiencing seal, sea lion, dolphin, penguin and panda encounters (I fed a panda!) and meeting all of the incredible staff and volunteers. I was also invited to two Christmas parties which was great to meet people but also made me feel very at home – they were great fun and I got to join in and play some music on the Cajon.
Everyone helped us to have a great culture experience of Hong Kong too – we visited Kadoorie Farm & Botanic Gardens and hiked to Tai Mo Shan, the very top of HK as well as a night hike to Victoria Peak to witness the iconic view of the harbour. We visited Lamma Island which felt like a mini holiday, shopped at malls and street markets, saw live music and travelled on many different types of public transport, explored Tai Tam country park at night and found geckos, toads, newts and fireflies. I tried so many different kinds of food and drinks and got pretty good with my chopsticks! I even have a Chinese name and a few phrases to practise in Cantonese.
JEP is an incredible opportunity to grow and learn not only for the participant or their institution but for the zoo educator’s community as a whole. It helps to foster working relationships across the globe and encourage the exchange of ideas, as we all have a common goal. If you are considering it then I highly recommend and am more than happy to share my experience in more detail. Ocean Park were really great hosts, all the staff really went out of their way to make sure we had the trip of a lifetime and I now have a new friend from France and many from Hong Kong. I’m already planning my return!
To see more of Bex’s photos, please visit our Facebook Page: JEP Bex Album