in the Living Room
Once again, students visiting the Living Room this past year have
had the opportunity to get close to Jake, the sulphur-crested cockatoo,
and Jose and Ricky, the chinchillas – among many other animals.
As with the self-paced Roving Guide service, close-up wildlife encounters
offer direct learning opportunities. Students exploring lifecycles
and other aspects of biology learn a lot more by touching skin,
feathers, scales, and fur, and seeing for themselves how the animals
Plans for all-weather encounters
Further building on this concept of direct learning, we have planned
and fundraised during the past year for an amphitheatre to replace
the big steps in front of the Elephant House. This large enclosed
building will offer visitors an extraordinary chance to see animals
up-close – and offer shelter from adverse weather.
One of the compelling reasons for maintaining modern zoos is that
when we see animals up close we very quickly appreciate the need
for their conservation and protection. Our suite of Close Encounters
developed by the animal training and conditioning team is now having
a significant impact on visitors. In this programme, small groups
of visitors are able to watch the big cats and the giraffes being
trained, to hand feed the red pandas or to get up close with our
Ninety-five percent of people who filled in the encounter evaluation
forms rated their over all encounter experience as very satisfying
and 98.6 percent rated the friendliness and knowledge of staff at
the very highest level.
Visitors who witness the encounters also say they experience a
sense of connection and greater empathy and understanding, just
from observing the human to animal contact.