Chester Zoo will provide free entry to 35,000 school children later this year, as part of a campaign to inspire a new wave of conservationists.
The zoo, which is the UK’s most visited tourist attraction outside London and the country’s most popular zoo, is both a conservation and an education charity.
A scientific study, supported by the zoo, reported last year that people have significantly better understanding of biodiversity and conservation after a visit to a zoo.
Conservationists hope that visiting the zoo will be the start of a lifelong conservation journey for many school children, some of whom could go on to play a crucial role in preventing the extinction of wildlife for years to come.
This is the second year the zoo has offered free school places, after a successful trial in 2017.
The zoo initially allocated some of the free places earlier this year but is now opening up the scheme more widely, and are encouraging schools who have not taken up the offer before to apply.
Charlotte Smith, Head of Discovery and Learning at the zoo, said: “Inspiring a new generation of conservationists could be the key to preventing the extinction of species in years to come. We want to encourage as many children through our gates as possible and we hope to remove as many barriers as we can to create opportunities young people may never have had before. “It is time to act for wildlife.”
From songbirds in Asia to rhinos in Africa, large numbers of species are under threat across the world.
Right here in the UK, wildlife is in decline. Almost three quarters of British butterfly species are in decline, one in five wildflowers are threatened with extinction and the hedgehog population has decreased by 50% in rural areas in only 15 years.
Field conservationists from the zoo are fighting back, working with partners to deliver more than 80 vital projects in 30 countries worldwide, including the UK.
Chester Zoo’s major Safari Ranger outreach programme already delivers free sessions to schools throughout the North West of England and North Wales.
Experts from the zoo also train community group leaders in habitat conservation, work with local field partners to protect endangered species and engage families and young people on site in Chester every day.
The free school places scheme is available for pupils from reception age to year 13, for weekday visits between December 2018 to February 28 2019, during the Cheshire West and Chester region term time.
School groups are advised to book early via http://www.chesterzoo.org/education/all-you-need-to-know/booking-your-visit
There is a maximum capacity of bookings per day to avoid overcrowding and ensure every child and visitor is able to enjoy a world class experience.
A range of in zoo workshops are available at an extra cost and free post-visit learning resources are also available for schools at www.chesterzoo.org/education .