21 Jul 2020

We absolutely love working with schools throughout the year. We love welcoming them to the zoo, as well as going out to schools across the North West and North Wales to teach and inspire young people about conservation and the actions they can take to act for wildlife. So it’s been devastating that school visits haven’t been possible in recent months and we’ve really missed working directly with you.

However during lockdown, we’ve been pleased to bring you many new learning resources for you to enjoy at home and at school, as well as our Virtual Zoo Days.  It’s been wonderful that so many of you have continued to use the zoo as a source of inspiration for learning and we’ve been overwhelmed by the support you’ve shown us through our Save Our Zoo campaign.

It’s been a delight to see so many of the schools that we’ve worked with and even some new schools, joining our Chester Zoo mission of preventing extinction, to learn about wildlife and ways they can help conservation through zoo focused projects. We’ve seen so many example of pupils creating posters to help ‘Save Our Zoo’, fact files about species they’ve learned about from our Virtual Zoo Days, creating their own amazing zoos out of materials at home or school and even habitats in shoe boxes.

We caught up with a few of the schools who have been sharing their work on social media to learn more about what they’ve been up to.

Ellesmere Primary School

Ellesmere Primary School launched a mini-mission to help raise awareness of the zoo’s plight. Children from Nursery to Year 6 explored the zoo in detail from the set up and everyday running of the zoo to the animals. Not only learning about the range of animals in the zoo but also about the effects of deforestation, unsustainable palm oil and why some animals have become endangered. All of the children gained a variety of experiences and skills through the work based on Chester Zoo. From maths and the finances of running a zoo, amazing artwork, newspaper reports, exploding booklets, poems, fact files and even dressing up as zoo animals! Children and families from across the school thoroughly enjoyed the mini-mission on Chester Zoo. 

Chester zoo is very important to so many of our children, families and staff. For many of our families a visit to the zoo is a special family day out where lots of fond memories have been made. We have been on numerous school visits to the zoo with children of all ages. A number of families also have memberships for the zoo and some staff have adopted animals. Chester Zoo is close to the hearts of so many in our school community and we wanted to show our support to the zoo through our latest school mini mission.

Gemma Hampson, Teacher at Ellesmere Primary School

St. Bernard’s Primary School

All throughout lockdown, St. Bernard’s Primary School key worker groups have visited the zoo virtually and loved learning about different species. In particular, their Year 5 class spent 5 weeks learning about endangered animals and using the zoo’s online resources to research. As well as this, the teachers set home learning tasks around conservation for the children who were not able to come to school and they’ve all done some amazing work around the plight of endangered animals.

For the past 3 years now, St Bernard’s has built their curriculum around conservation. The children have become passionate campaigners, from trying to break the silence of the Indonesian forests to changing the palm oil shopping habits of their families. All of this would not have been possible without the support of the learning team at the zoo. Chester Zoo truly is part of our school family and the work we have done together has made a lasting impact on our children. So much so, the school received an email from a former pupil from 2 years ago who was so concerned about the possibility of the zoo closing. She wanted to know how she and St B’s could help. Her passion for conservation lives on and that is all down to the brilliant partnership our school and the zoo have created together. As a school each class decided to adopt an animal to help support the zoo, so we now have a meerkat, cheetah, pudus, red panda, lion, bornean orangutan and a black rhino.

Emily Reid, Deputy Head, St Bernard’s Primary School

Stockport Grammar School

Stockport Grammar decided that they wanted the school to do something collectively to help the zoo in response to the Save Our Zoo campaign. The project asked the children simply to respond to the question “What does Chester Zoo mean to me?”.  In response they received over 100 submissions of artwork, poems, stories and memories.  Every year group in the school took part from pre-reception children to Year 13.  Due to the amount of responses, they collated everything into a book which they’ve had published.  They’re now selling this book to raise funds to donate to the zoo!

The message which permeated the pupils’ work was that Chester Zoo is a place where families come together. The importance of this cannot be overstated.

Alastair Thorley, Eco Schools Co-ordinator at Stockport Grammar School

The Oaks Primary School

The teachers at The Oaks Primary School wanted to help when they heard about the threat of the zoo closure so decided to adopt a red panda from the zoo. This led to the school doing lots of work about red pandas; making use of the virtual zoo day videos and learning resources to support the children across all year groups. The Year 5 class produced fact files and artwork on red pandas, wrote poetry and looked at balanced arguments about zoos. They also had a go at designing their own zoos focusing on the layout and costing involved in running a zoo.

As a school and community, Chester Zoo is extremely important to us and we have been involved in a number of projects with other local schools over the years linked to conservation work such as the palm oil and songbird project.

Holly Jeffs, Teacher at The Oaks Primary School

Looking ahead…

We really value our family of schools, teachers, pupils and parents who support the work that we do together. We’re especially proud that we’ve seen so many of the young people we’ve worked with over the last few years using their voices to speak up about the zoo and conservation; not just over the last few months but across the whole academic year. It’s through inspiring others about what they’ve learned that can affect real change in the world.

We hope, that although it’s been a bit of a different school year, you’ve all enjoyed working with us as much as we have with you, and we can’t wait to continue working with our schools when the new school year comes.

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The fight isn’t over for us just yet,