Thursday 3 May 2018

"Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn."

I'm going to start this post off on a negative note, which I don't usually do as I always keep all of my posts happy and upbeat but stay with me. For as long as I can remember I have been 'Anti Zoo's'. I never liked the idea of animals being out of their natural habitat and trapped in enclosures, the whole idea of it weirded me out a little and because of this we had never taken the boys to the zoo. When I think about it now my view on this could seem quite odd as I have taken them to aquariums before... clearly I feel completely different about sea life. 

After being asked to visit Twycross Zoo my initial thought was to politely decline, but before doing so I went online and did a little research on the zoo and this is where I realised that my thoughts and feelings about zoo's especially in Twycoss' case was very wrong. After reading about their conservation projects and research into animal behaviour, breeding programmes and sustainability, I closed my laptop feeling very different about the views I had previously had. So we decided to visit Twycross so that we could really see what the zoo was all about.
If there is one very important thing that I have learned since starting this amazing home-schooling adventure with Opeie, it is that no day sat in a class room, having information thrown at you is ever going to trump a day out learning through experience and that really is what home-schooling is all about for us. Add another home-schooling family into the mix and your educational fun is magnified as the children bounce their thoughts, feelings and ideas off of each other. 

We picked probably the best day of the year so far to visit the zoo as the sun was out and there looked like there was no chance of anything changing, which for a day in April is good going. The kids were excited and us parents had our own favourite animals that we couldn't wait to see. What I loved from the get go was how immaculate the zoo was and how welcoming and friendly the staff were which will always put you in good stead for a great visit anywhere. 

With maps in their hands we left the kids to show us around (a great home-schooling lesson in itself).

First on their list of places of interest on the map was Lorikeet landing, I don't think I'd ever seen a Lorikeet before and I think its safe to say that we were all really impressed by the bright and vibrant colours on these beautiful birds. I was great to be able to walk into the enclosure and have them landing right next to you as you made your way through. I love the way that there was no shortage of information about each of the animals there, having the educational side of things made easy for us home-schooling parents.

Being the little punk enthusiast that Opeie is these days, he was in awe of the black and white zebra mohicans. It was interesting to learn that the zebras stripes can be used as camouflage but also that their monochrome pattern can confuse and deter flies. 

one of the most appealing things about the zoo for me was the shear size of it, you could easily spend the whole day there wandering about, especially on the glorious day that we visited. with something different everywhere you turn, even if you were not interested in reading the information about the animals the visit would be a stimulating visual experience. Being able to see animals that you would never get to see unless visiting their natural habitats, really is very special.

Ive always been a huge fan of the giraffe and as we approached the enclosure we realised we had arrived at exactly the right time, to see them up close while they were feeding. For me personally this really made the visit.

One of the things that really surprised me about the visit was the the way I felt about animals that I'd not really thought about before. We're always watching nature documentaries and although its fascinating to learn about animals, to actually see them is a real experience. I'd never really given Gorillas a second thought, when we reached the enclosure though I could have sat there watching them all afternoon and it was clear that we all felt the same.

At lunch time we found a spot of grass to have our picnic. When we looked behind us we were shocked to see two enormous tortiose happily munching on some grass. (like I said 'everywhere you look there is something interesting). 

Tummys full, it was time for our little map reading tour guides to take us to the next place of interest, the Lemurs...

It was at this point that one of our party members started to get very VERY excited... and it wasn't one of the children. When arranging the trip I had been concentrating so much on the kids having a great time I hadn't thought for one second about our friend Helen having the time of her life. It turns out she loves Lemurs and having them walking along right next to her was clearly making her very happy indeed. 

With so many amazing animals to see  we were fully entertained for the day and the kids had so much to talk about on the way home. As a home educating parent these are the sorts of days out that really have the most impact and the visit has already spurred on many activities and interesting talks about habitats and interesting facts about each of the animals we saw.

If you are planning on a visit soon the new Chimpanzee Eden has just opened. Check out the link HERE!

The thing that really made this visit special is that it made me realise that although it is good to have strong feelings about various things in life, they are not always right and sometimes you can be proved wrong. Twycross and the amazing work that they do to learn about each of their animals while educating along the way really is something special and we hope to visit there again very soon. 

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