We passionately believe that inspiring the current and future generations through education is vital if conservation efforts are going to be worthwhile. This is why we have a dedicated Discovery and Learning team, who deliver loads of amazing education initiatives every day!
Our work is divided into a number of different areas, including formal learning (that’s schools, colleges, etc.), informal engagement (all our visitors), interpretation, community conservation, volunteering, digital learning and administration. We wanted to introduce you to the different teams and provide you with an overview of the incredible work our learning teams get up to.
Many of you will have spotted our fab team of Zoo Rangers carrying out animal talks and a whole host of other engaging and exciting activities within the zoo. They’re animal experts, so you can quiz them on any animal-related questions you have, they deliver our daily animal talks where they also share more information about the work our conservationists are carrying out in the field, and provide you with other ideas of how you can Act for Wildlife.
The team offer something extra and special for our zoo visitors – no matter what your age! Including Bug Club for 5-8 year olds, Junior Rangers Training camp for 8-12 year olds and our Nature Reserve Club for adults interested in surveying wildlife. You can also help feed some of the bird species at the zoo, feed our butterflies and get up close to some spikey stick insects with the Zoo Rangers. The team also organise a variety of special events throughout the year to celebrate World Animal Days, Members Days and enrichment days which involves looking at the methods we use to keep the animals fit and healthy (both physically and mentally).
Zoo Rangers can also be spotted at different locations around the zoo on their tricycle which is filled with incredible animal artefacts for you to get your hands on and discover more about our conservation and science work. The programme changes regularly so be sure to keep up to date with what’s on by heading over to our website.
Our Education Officers and Learning Assistants deliver workshops on a wide range of topics to a wide audience from all ages and abilities; from reception to university groups. They teach around 25,000 of the zoo’s 100,000 educational visitors each year. They specialise in biology and conservation but also link workshops to other areas of the curriculum. When the team aren’t teaching, they can be found in the office developing new workshops for the discovery programme and working with the Digital Learning Officer to help develop fun and engaging learning resources. Our team run workshops from KS1 to KS5 and provide help and fantastic conservation education wherever it’s needed. The whole zoo can be a classroom, and some of our workshops take place out and about in different locations around the zoo.
Our Safari Ranger team work with local schools and communities within the region on a daily basis, delivering free workshops on a number of different topics and themes linked to the curriculum to educate and inspire the next generation to protect nature. The team visit primary, secondary and special schools, further education and community groups for either one off workshops or repeat engagement project workshops. The team is always on the go in our Chester Zoo cars; which you may have spotted out and about!
Our Wildlife Connections project works with the public to encourage them to create safe spaces for local wildlife through developing habitats. Our project trains up individuals in how to identify and record wildlife, who then encourage their local communities to engage with wildlife too. Our outreach work doesn’t stop in the UK either! We’re working with our project partners around the world to support a range of educational activities – from interpretation to behaviour change campaigns.
Interpretation and Digital Learning
This team is responsible for creating all of the animal and plant signage you see across the zoo. They also look after the theming of areas such as Islands and painted dogs – designing inspiring environments for you. You might see them in the zoo with a screwdriver in hand! We also produce a lot of digital assets – from photography, film and audio – to develop an extensive bank of online learning resources that can assist schools with their visit to the zoo or lessons in the classroom.
As a charity, volunteers provide vital support to the life of the zoo. Our award-winning volunteers complement the work of our paid staff and contribute to our success by supporting the zoo’s education, scientific and conservation mission. Our volunteers provide thousands of hours between them to support our work. We have just over 200 volunteers who support us and play a crucial role in providing an all-round excellent visitor experience. Our volunteers are passionate people who are dedicated to engaging visitors in amazing educational experiences and helping us raise funds for our vital conservation work. Our volunteers are not only based across the zoo but also support our Safari Rangers, Zoo Rangers, Fundraising team, as well as our Education team helping to help support schools when they visit the zoo. We are proud to say that our volunteers have already given 10,000 hours of their time this year and we look forward to seeing what the rest of the year will bring! Read stories from some of our volunteers, here.
Keep an eye on our blog over the next few weeks as we’ll be highlighting the work of our learning team and the important role they play in protecting wildlife from extinction.
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By the time you’ve read this page, Earth will have lost an area of forest the size of eleven football pitches. That’s devastating for wildlife. It will probably cost a family of orangutans their home.