Animal Management Students Visit Chester and the Cotswolds on Zoo Study Tour
Higher Education students in the Animal Management department recently went on a short zoo study tour as part of their Exotic Collection Management module. The trip consisted of visiting two different collections, building on their year 1 visit to Durrell in Jersey. Lectures in various modules prepare the students for this trip, enabling them to fully critique and review their experiences.
The students firstly visited Cotswolds Wildlife Park to learn about the mix of wildlife and gardens in a collection. The Park is the UK’s largest private zoological collection and has numerous species, which are part of the European Studbook (ESB) breeding programme and European Endangered Species Programme (EEP).
The site has a mix of exhibits, and the students were particularly interested in the endangered waterfowl management, horticultural planning and propagation, and the use of the walled gardens for a wide array of species.
The trip then moved on to Chester, where the students were able to spend time in the historic city centre, walking around the roman and medieval buildings. The next day was spent at Chester Zoo, one of the largest zoos in the UK, covering 125 acres. It was recently named as the best UK Zoo in an international TripAdvisor survey and currently ranks as number 7 globally.
The focus for the Chester Zoo visit was to look at the “Islands” area - a new section of the zoo which has had £40m invested into the design, created 45 new full-time jobs and has had 52,000 tropical plants propagated to create the immersive biome. It also boasts immersive theming and use of technology to recreate a variety of tropical island habitats from Sumatra, Philippines and Indonesia.
Students were able to take a boat ride through the islands and gain completely different views of endangered animals such as orang-utans, warty pigs, macaques, lowland anoas and Sumatran tigers. In the biome, the students experienced tropical conditions in the “Monsoon Forest” whilst being able to view endangered gharials, gibbons and free-flying bird species in the UK’s largest indoor zoo exhibit.
Other exhibits which the students enjoyed included the largest indoor bat walkthrough - with a mix of two different bat species - the unusual aye-ayes from Madagascar and the breeding project for the rare mountain chicken (actually a frog!)
After 3 days travelling to some brilliant examples of UK zoos, the students were truly worn out, but came back inspired with some great new ideas for their careers, dissertations and enclosure development at Hadlow College.