Wayne Walters, Perth Zoo’s Acting Education Manager, organised an action-packed program for the ASCers, with attendees taking part in the same education and communication activities used with school, community and corporate groups.
Upon arriving, Wayne and Education Officer Claire Gaskin guided ASC members through an African Painted Dog scenario, in which two teams were required to navigate their way across a grid whilst avoiding some of the dangers the dogs face in real life.
This first activity was an engaging introduction to communication and education at Perth Zoo, in which a range of tools and approaches are used to encourage visitors to connect with animal ‘ambassadors’.
From a science communication perspective, Perth Zoo not only works to raise awareness of issues such as conservation and sustainability, but also encourages visitors to change their own daily behaviour to address these issues. Often these actions are simple, but can conflict with existing attitudes. To illustrate these concepts in action, Wayne
explained one of the Zoo’s current campaigns – encouraging people to choose recycled toilet paper.
The group was then immersed in a selection of the Education Team’s ‘educational experiences’, which are designed to allow hands-on experiences around the Zoo’s own programs and operations. For example, one group of ASCers was put to work solving the problem of finding enough termites to feed the Zoo’s numbats.
It was an entertaining and engaging showcase of the many educational programs offered at the Zoo. However, the final part of the visit was the most special, in which Wayne led the party through the Zoo’s African Safari section after dark.
Many of the animals viewed were particularly active and ASCers were fortunate enough to witness the Southern White Rhinoceroses from less than a metre away, and to hear the lions ‘singing’.
ASC-WA must thank WA Secretary, Miriam Sullivan for organising the visit and Claire Gaskin from Perth Zoo for assisting with the educational activities. A special thanks to Wayne Walters for organising an excellent program and sharing Perth Zoo’s approach to communication and education.
ASC National Secretary