World Land Trust (WLT) took part in Nurturing Nature, a conservation education day at Chessington World of Adventures, designed by a team of six Events Management students from the University of Greenwich.
Local Surrey schoolchildren gathered at Chessington on Tuesday 18 March to learn about the importance of active conservation for the future preservation of animals. The day was a mixture of learning and fun: the schoolchildren had the opportunity to learn more about native wildlife and how the pressures on wildlife in this country are replicated around the world. The children also had the chance to create a birdhouse to take home with them. Some 120 children took part.
The idea of Nurturing Nature was to encourage children to engage with nature from a young age, and to provide them with a foundation of knowledge about the importance of conservation. The event was designed to stimulate children to become more engaged with their local environment and to consider the importance of conservation in the context of a zoo.
Kelly Jacobs, WLT’s Education, Outreach & Training Manager, helped develop ideas for the day and was among the team of adults leading activities. She said: “It’s always inspiring to see how much children enjoy learning about wild animals and conservation. Chessington’s Nurturing Nature day was fun, stimulating and educational.”
Before the event, Chloe-Mae McNeillis, one of the student organisers, said: “This event will be such a great experience for all of the schoolchildren involved. It will be a great opportunity for them to get out of the classroom and really get involved in learning about conservation and the importance of nature!” The student organisers hope that the event has demonstrated a need to include more conservation days in the future curriculum for primary schools.
Chessington’s Zoo Manager, Marc Boardman, said: “It is a great, positive step forward for Chessington. This event is something unique for the local area, highlighting even more how important conservation is to us all.”
During the day schoolchildren had the opportunity to meet and engage with a variety of animals, such as a Binturong (or Bearcat) (Arctictis binturong) and Coati, tropical birds, and even some creepy crawlies. The children were also able to enter an enclosure of Lorikeets (brightly coloured tropical birds which feed from your hand) and get close to other animals in the zoo.
During the day activities relating to overseas conservation focused on the Ecuador rainforests, where WLT has projects that have been supported by Chessington Conservation Fund (CCF). In 2012 CCF raised funds for WLT to support the purchase of land in Ecuador that was equal in size to the site of Chessington World of Adventures: 128 acres (51 hectares). Since then CCF has supported the employment of a ranger at Cazaderos Reserve.
The Zoo at Chessington World of Adventures is a member of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA). BIAZA represents its member collections and promotes the values of good zoos and aquariums. BIAZA and WLT have recently launched BIAZA Buy an Acre to raise funds for land purchase in Mexico's Sierra Gorda.
Contact for more information: Heather Boardman on 07771618710 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.