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A Q&A with… Blackpool Zoo

Date Posted: 13/02/2014

Children help Tim from Bristol Zoo.

We spoke to senior education and sustainability officer, Tim Lloyd (pictured, centre) from Blackpool Zoo about his passion for inspiring young people.

Q. How long has there been an education department at Blackpool Zoo?

A. There has been an education department here at Blackpool Zoo since we opened in 1972, when we welcomed out first school visit from a local school that still brings its pupils on educational trips to this day.

The department has grown immensely since then and we now work with and teach all ages from nursery to degree level, on a wide range of topics.

Q. What can you offer pupils on a school visit?

A. We have a Zoo-to-You outreach service, where we visit school groups of all kinds and bring certain animals and artefacts to teach interactive sessions and conduct public animal contact sessions.

The zoo also offers practical learning programmes, where students are taught the fundamental skills required to work with animals and have courses available that are aimed at specific age groups, where a mix of theory and practical work gives them experience of working in a zoo environment.

In addition to the sessions, our department conducts all of the daily talks and feeds around the zoo every day as well as running the research, work experience, sustainability, and conservation programmes. It is certainly a very busy department.

Q. How many school trips do you host each year?

A. It is growing each year, we had 57,000 people visit us as part of a group visit in 2013 and saw record numbers of school visits, which were up seven per cent on the previous year.

Q. What can you cover in a school trip?

A. Our reduced school group rates include one free educational session per 35 students [see below] and we also have a range of extras that can be pre-booked including train rides, goody bags, ice creams, time in our indoor soft play barn, and lunches.

Animal handling at Bristol Zoo.

Q. What kind of workshops and activities can school groups participate in?

A. We have a wide range of age specific sessions aimed at particular Key Stages and subject areas, which are interactive and fun, the majority of which include animal and/or artefact handling.

There are also a number of set tours around the zoo that include animal contact sessions.

If classes or groups are studying a particular subject the team will endeavour to tailor a session to suit their learning objectives. Tailored sessions do require more notice to allow us to ensure the best possible solution.

Q. How has your educational offering changed over the years? What topics do you cover?

A. Since the zoo opened we have continually evolve and developed to meet the changing needs of schools. We strive to offer a diverse, stimulating and enjoyable education experience to every group.

We aim to cover any subject area, age and ability to provide an informative yet exciting visit to all groups.

Q. What benefits do you offer a school visiting you?

A. In addition to all the above we also offer free coach parking, a weatherproof eating area and priority lane for admissions.

Q. Asides the obvious; why is a zoo visit particularly beneficial for school children?

A. They can experience learning outside the classroom in a safe, enjoyable and dynamic environment.

Using all of the unique resources available to us, the skilled and experienced education team can offer a completely different educational experience.

For further school trip information visit www.bristolzoo.org.uk.

School Travel Organiser's Guide