Theme-park ban on animal-print clothing highlights the hidden wonders of camouflage - Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 25 September

It is not unheard-of for venues to enforce a strict dress code, but now an English theme park has banned visitors from wearing animal-print clothing.


Theme-park ban on animal-print clothing highlights the hidden wonders of camouflage

Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 25 September


It is not unheard-of for venues to enforce a strict dress code, but now an English theme park has banned visitors from wearing animal-print clothing.

Chessington World of Adventures, based in Surrey, has taken the unusual step of establishing a zero-tolerance approach to anyone wearing clothes sporting leopard print and the like because it is confusing their animals, and have even employed security guards to enforce the ban.

The decision was made after the park’s zookeepers noticed animals becoming confused and even running away when they saw a visitor wearing animal prints.

Chessington spokeswoman Natalie Dilloway said the new Zufari: Ride into Africa area of the park, in which visitors take part in an off-road safari-style adventure, allowed visitors to get closer to the animals than previously possible.

“Since the launch, guests have interacted with the animals more closely than ever before and we have noticed a lot of animals becoming baffled by animal-print-wearing guests,’ Ms Dilloway said. “It’s no wonder the animals are getting confused when they see what they perceive to be zebras and giraffes driving across the terrain in a 7.5-tonne truck.”

The reaction by the zoo’s wildlife upon seeing animal-print clothing is a result of instincts developed over millions of years.

Camouflage is one of the most striking examples of how natural selection works in evolution. Prey with the most effective camouflage were most likely to avoid predation, therefore were more likely to pass on their characteristics to the next generation. Thus, certain characteristics become more pronounced.

Zebras’ black and white stripes, for example, are believed to confuse predators through something called motion dazzle, where large numbers of moving stripes makes it difficult for a lion to pick out an individual target.

Similarly, predators with camouflage to avoid detection, such as tigers in long grass or polar bears in the Arctic, were more likely to be successful hunters and would therefore more likely to pass on their genes.

The different ways animals, and even humans, deploy camouflage is breathtaking in its variety, from making themselves hard to see as with the leopard’s spotted coat or a soldier in battledress, to mimicking other objects like stick insects do.

Highly complicated mathematics can even be deployed by some living creatures, particularly among hoverflies and dragonflies, which use “motion camouflage”, which gives the appearance that they are remaining stationary by following a certain flight pattern or angle of motion.


Questions

1.) Make a list of as many animals as you can think of that use camouflage.
2.) What is “natural selection”?
3.) What other places have a dress code and why do they enforce it?
4.) Design an outfit for yourself that would help you to become camouflaged in your environment.


Related resources


Adaptation Top Trumps

  • Explore how animals adapt to their environment with this creative version of the card game.

Camouflage

  • Ideal for primary children, this introductory presentation explains why animals use camouflage.

Mimicry and camouflage

  • This PowerPoint presentation shows a selection of animals and insects that rely on camouflage and mimicking predators to survive.

Design a species

  • Children use what they’ve learned in this lesson plan to create a species adapted to a particular environment.

Further news resources


First News front page

  • Help your pupils understand the features of the front page of a newspaper.

Write all about it

  • Get students creating their own news report with this step-by-step guide.

What is the News?

  • A sociological and media perspective on what makes an event 'newsworthy'.

On the box

  • Help pupils to write their own TV news broadcast with this handy PowerPoint.

Structuring stories

  • A scheme of work to help students structure news stories.

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