Spreading the conservation message - a selection from the Federation's, shortlist

22nd September 1995 at 01:00
Whipsnade Zoo has developed a snakes and ladders-type game to demonstrate the risks of survival in the wild. Stepping along coloured concrete slabs marked with paw prints, visitors encounter instructions like "Your habitat is declared a protected area - move forward one" or "Poachers kill most of your group - move back 2" or "population crashes, cause unknown". Signs explain factors affecting animal numbers, for example: "In China, tiger bone is still used in traditional medicines despite its use now being illegal."

o Whipsnade Wild Animal Park, Dunstable, Bedfordshire LU6 2LF. Tel: 01582 872171.

London Zoo's award-winning booklet, Conservation in Action, is a lively, highly pictorial publication crammed with information on animals and birds and conservation programmes designed to safeguard them. Meet-the-animal projects are also popular, and London Zoo's well-publicised Friendly Spider Programme offers a half-day course for arachnophobics with lectures, group hypnosis by a clinical hypnotherapist and an optional visit to the invertebrate house. Since the programme began in May 1993 more than 90 per cent of participants report they now remain calm and confident when they encounter a spider.

o London Zoo, Regent's Park, London NW1 4RY. Tel: 0171 722 3333.

Belfast Zoo's Animal Therapy in Hospital project has a different emphasis. Simple, but much appreciated by patients and hospital staff, the scheme involves taking a small selection of animals to patients at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children for them to handle. The selection is by no means predictable or boring. It includes a tree frog, leaf insects, a royal python and a tarantula.

o Belfast Zoo, Antrim Road, Belfast BT36 7PN. Tel: 01232 776277.

Chester Zoo's storytime project is particularly aimed at young children, who can get weary walking round a zoo. Volunteers, working in a tent, tell animal stories to give them a break. They include one likening the zoo to Noah's Ark, and children's favourites such as "The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark" and "How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin". All are illustrated and involve participation from the children. Sessions for pre-school and infant parties are bookable.

o Chester Zoo, Caughall Road, Upton, Chester CH2 1LH. Tel: 01244 380280.

Cricket St Thomas Wildlife Park in Chard, Somerset won a commendation for its work with a further education college. Students at Cannington College in Yeovil are studying exotic species husbandry for their BTEC First Diploma in animal care and the zoo has built a classroom with teaching aids including computers and audio-visual equipment.

The most important resource, however, is the wildlife park itself, where students work closely with keepers.

* Cricket St Thomas Wildlife Park, Chard, Somerset, TA20 4DD. Tel: 01460 30755.

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