Its all about quality education at zoos and aquariums
Participant in Moonlit Sanctuary's Special Needs Keeper Club program
Zoos and aquariums provide quality learning experiences to students, visitors, and the broader community both onsite and online. Education and learning programs are provided for a diverse range of audiences making education accessible for all regardless of cognitive or physical ability or gender, social, cultural, ethnic, or economic background. Zoos and aquariums also foster quality education by integrating sustainable development topics onsite and online, creating creative work opportunities, internships, and work-study opportunities.
Moonlit sanctuary offers a ‘Special Needs Keeper Club program’ which facilitates nature-based experiences for children, accounting for those with diverse learning needs. The program aims to create a comfortable learning environment for children who will benefit from smaller group sizes, a more relaxed atmosphere, and the support of a guardian or caregiver. The program was created in 2019, with the input of parents of children with diverse needs. These parents and their children were the first participants and since then the program has run on a further two occasions. Moonlit Sanctuary will continue to run the program as covid-19 restrictions continue to ease. The program has been well-received by participants and parents.
“Our autistic daughter loved her keeper experience. The nice small group size away from other groups really helped her anxiety, she came out of her shell and just blossomed. Thank you to the education officer who was so lovely and knowledgeable.”
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary has recently teamed up with the local Currumbin Veterans Association, to provide a 12-week on-site keeper education program, which sees veterans go behind the scenes one morning a week. This interactive program is proving to be a huge success for the veterans, Sanctuary staff and animals.
“We are honoured to be part of this unique program, and the feedback we have received from the veterans themselves has been amazing, for some it has really changed their lives. Following the program, some veterans have even shown interest in becoming volunteers at the Sanctuary.” Anthony Molyneux - Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary Life Sciences Manager
Veterans participating in Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary's 2-week on-site keeper education program
Adelaide Zoo has recently introduced a new experience, Relaxed Mornings at the Zoo, for visitors to explore the space at their own pace. The quarterly event starts at 8am and allows visitors one and half hours to explore the zoo before it opens to the general public. This event is a part of a commitment to increase accessibility across the zoo’s sites and projects. Relaxed Mornings at the Zoo are sensory-friendly sessions with reduced human noises on site, including dimmed lighting, no music played in retail and café spaces and no power tools or vehicle use on site. Ensuring a quieter and calmer environment for people who benefit from this.
General Manager of Visitor Operations, Brendan Kilpatrick said; “Everyone should have the opportunity to connect with nature and feel comfortable at Adelaide Zoo, and we are committed to improving access and inclusiveness for all people.”
After having over 100 guests participate in the October event, the Adelaide Zoo team are hoping this can eventually become a regular, weekly event to ensure everyone can come and enjoy Adelaide Zoo.