IZE Regional Report
By Regional Representative Lynn Allan
In 2015 Wellington Zoo delivered the Warehouse Wellington Zoofari for the second year running. Zoofari enables students from low socio-economic areas in the region to visit Wellington Zoo for conservation-based learning sessions. Many of these students would otherwise not get the opportunity to visit the Zoo.
During their visit, learners (students, parents, and teachers alike) engage with, and learn about the world around them, and discover how they can care for animals (both companion animals and wild animals), and the places they live in. Feedback from teachers indicates that students develop strong emotional connections during their visit; for example, one teacher said ‘The kids were really responsive and found it a very valuable learning time. They are still talking about the animals they were introduced to’. In a letter to the Zoo Educator, one Zoofari student wrote ‘Thank you for giving up your time to give us the chance to explore the Zoo. It was an enjoyable experience I may never have again. I’m going to cherish that day forever, especially watching the baboons make funny facials’.
So far almost 3,500 students have taken part in the programme, including a high number of Māori and Pasifika children, two underserved groups. Zoofari has provided a successful model for effective collaboration and partnership between zoos and business, and we are very proud of this partnership and the programme’s successes.
This year we’ve built on the partnership established with the Hamilton Astronomical Society and increased the amount of schools taking up a unique sleepover experience- observing planets and stars at night, and exploring the Zoo the following day is getting some really positive feedback.
We also strengthened our collaboration with other like-minded institutions to enable some positive, hands on, authentic learning outside of the classroom at the Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park (New Zealand’s largest inland restoration project), located across the road from the Zoo. As a Zoo we are continuing to develop our key conservation messages which we then incorporate into any educational opportunities.
Eye to Eye close encounter programs are very popular with visitors at Perth Zoo but most of them have age limits. The Discovery and Learning team developed two new experiences called Bush Buddies and Scaly Mates that offer the opportunity for people of any age to get up close to Australian native wildlife. Utilizing the Discovery and Learning animal collection and Discovery Bushland, these programs have so far proven popular with over 1200 participants since going live in March 2015. A range of experiences have also been developed for corporate function, events and family group picnic guests including fun team-building games to animal encounters and mobile children activities, all carefully designed to include our Saving Wildlife messages.
Lone Pine Koala Santuary:
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary has developed and implemented an early childhood nature play program with great success. Children aged three to five years have been making connections to their local environment and wildlife through interactive nature craft and games, habitat construction, wildlife enrichment creation and wildlife-based movement activities. Education officers have reported increased environmental literacy throughout the eight week program, particularly for children who have engaged in the program across multiple terms.
Taronga Conservation Society Project Penguin
This award winning community conservation program for schools is the flagship program representing Taronga’s Project In-situ model. Throughout NSW, communities of schools are formed with upper primary and senior high school students as mentors. They investigate a locally threatened species, consult with the agencies that are currently helping, join them in the field, then design away to effect community awareness and behaviour change.
This year marked the 9th consecutive year for Project Penguin which focuses on rallying the local community to keep their dogs on leads and clean up plastic ocean debris from the beaches. With 720 participants and ever-growing support from the wider community and the NSW Department of Education as an exemplar model of authentic, project based learning
“I feel special because I’m helping to save an animal that lives in the same place as me.”
Ella Enright 4A Curl Curl North PS
Taronga Conservation Society has been working with TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, to launch Wildlife Witness, a smartphone app for tourists and locals to report illegal wildlife trade in Southeast Asia. People can help by taking a photo, pinning the location and submitting a report to TRAFFIC’s Wildlife Crime Data Analyst. The TRAFFIC Wildlife Crime Data Analyst, funded by ten Zoo Aquarium Association members, processes and monitors the data to generate reports about illegal wildlife trade trends and priorities. A Wildlife Witness campaign toolkit has been developed and will be launched in late September for other zoos and aquarium partners along with travel organisations to drive public awareness and education on the issue of illegal wildlife trade and to expand the Wildlife Witness network.
Project Habitat, an exciting new program, was launched this year with the support from Boeing Australia. This unique outreach program targets schools, community groups and events to drive behaviour change for habitat restoration
and wildlife protection. Working with local agencies, communities have been involved in bush regeneration and tree planting activities to support their locally threatened species. In July the program focussed on the habitat of the Yellow-bellied Glider at the Kincumber Mountain Reserve. The aim was to plant native trees, including the Swamp Mahogany (one of the only winter flowering plants that provides essential food and shelter for Yellow-bellied Gliders during this tough season), and lift local volunteering participation in habitat creation. Approximately 300 local residents attended the workshops and planted hundreds of native trees and met one of Taronga’s very own Yellow-bellied Gliders as inspiration.