Keeper course is proving popular

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It’s been a busy half term week for the education department at the Flamingo Land zoo!

From Monday to Wednesday, we’ve been running our Keeper Academy course, which is aimed at 15-17 year olds who are interested in working with animals.

Practical experience is essential for pursuing such a career, but this can often be difficult to obtain, particularly for under 18s.

As a result, we started our course, which mixes practical work with our zookeepers with theory sessions led by the education team. This year, the group have fed animals, cleaned enclosures, produced enrichment and much more! In fact, the course has been so popular that we have added six separate dates for next year, running over nearly every school holiday!

We’ve also been busy running some of the holiday activities for our public visitors and holiday village guests. In the Education Centre, we’ve held arts and crafts as well as pumpkin carving sessions, plus Meet a Creature sessions allowing people to get hands-on with some scary species.

Although our reptiles always get mixed reactions from the audience, it’s usually the adults who are more spooked than the kids! Pumpkin carving was a huge winner, with a record number of visitors this year, but not everybody wanted to take their finished pumpkin home. None of these will go to waste, however, with any leftovers being given to our animals! Some have been given out already, proving particularly popular with our hogs and tapirs. As both are ground-dwelling foraging animals, pumpkins are actually an excellent addition to their diets, though even our meat eaters are getting a piece of the action! Even though carnivores such as our Sumatran tigers may not eat vegetables, they are still curious animals and anything new in their enclosure, particularly anything that has been handled by other animals (ie us!), will merit investigation! For other animals, we can also stuff the pumpkins with hay, fruit or pellet food.

We’re closed now for a few weeks, but the zoo will be opening on weekends and during the school holidays for winter at Flamingo Land from the November 29. We’ve got an exciting programme of talks and activities planned, so watch this space!