Belfast Zoo has launched a new and innovative education programme to inspire future generations of children to discover the world around us and to become champions for wildlife conservation.
With interactive, discussion-led education, Belfast Zoo’s new programme brings learning to life in a unique and memorable way. The new programme complements the Northern Ireland curriculum and suits all ages and abilities from nursery to further education level. (photo: Belfast Zoo)
The programme has been developed by Belfast Zoo’s education team in consultation with zoo education specialist, Stephen Woollard. Through interactive learning including on-site discussions, students will discover the world around them through a range of topics including animal habitats, classification and endangered animals.
Stephen Wollard explains “It is vital that children learn about the importance of wildlife, habitats and conservation from a young age. Belfast Zoo’s new education programme includes a range of services including outreach visits to schools, self-guided learning visits and discovery sessions at the zoo. The new enhanced discovery sessions will take learning outside of the classroom and onto the zoo site, providing a unique and memorable experience for students of all ages.
Stephen continues: “Education is more than just an acquisition of knowledge as it also aims to develop young people’s understanding, skills, values and personal development. Learning outside the classroom can encourage a deeper understanding of key issues such as critically endangered species. The emotional power of a first-hand animal encounter is a major factor in creating a protectionist view of wildlife, to ensure that future generations are inspired and invested in conservation.”
Zoo education officer, John Fisher, said “In a world of diminishing habitats, disappearing species and increasing urbanisations, zoos are uniquely placed to connect people to the natural world. Zoos reach millions of people all over the world, most of them living in urban areas and having little or no other contact with nature. Belfast Zoo is home to more than 130 species, many of which are facing the very real threat of extinction and, as a modern and passionate, zoo we are committed to a number of core roles including conservation, tourism, community and, of course, education.
John continues: “As the only zoo in Northern Ireland, it is essential that we provide an engaging education service that allows children of all ages to learn about endangered habitats and animals, including species native to the local area. We are delighted to launch this new and innovative programme and look forward to working with students, teachers and groups from across Northern Ireland and further afield.”
Belfast Zoo’s education service is open to schools and groups with sessions available all year.
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