Most people when they think of animal handling think about entertainment, and, in an educational context, science. It's true of course that animal-handling sessions can be a fantastic way of livening up an event or, more seriously, helping youngsters in schools to get to grips with the big concepts of science – from evolution to classification. But animal-handling sessions can do much, much more...
The truth is, interactions with animals help people in so many ways: from coping with bereavement and illness; to dealing with exam stress; and even encouraging youngsters to read! And that's just what we have been helping with here at ZooLab as part of our summer reading activities.
Across the UK, our teams of animal colleagues and animal-handling rangers have been out on the road, getting young children involved in a new ZooLab story about a wonderful worm called William and his one-worm campaign against climate change. This is a story that involves acting out scenes in a story called Marvellous Beasts that sees William and a friend go around the world to the rainforests of South America and then up to the United Nations in New York using a highly novel mode of transport and gathering animal friends en route. They bring with them messages about animals that the UN Conference on Climate Change has to hear! The great thing about this show is that the children get to meet and handle the characters from the story – from corn snakes, to millipedes, and from giant African land snails to tree frogs.
The story is told using plenty of imagination and with lashings of humour, but the 'serious' point is that it gets children to be part of the story, think about big global issues and encourages them to seek out other stories. Here's what libraries have had to say about our Summer library show
Blackshots Library, Grays
'ALL children were enabled to participate, which is a very important factor.'
'Brilliant show. Ben was lively, engaging, enthusiastic, patient, friendly and did fantastically well. A really positive experience. A lot of interest and questions from the children and their families after the show as well which was great to see. Will definitely book again.'
Belhus Library, South Ockendon
'The comments we received were all positive. The children absolutely loved the animals and the parents said that Chloe made it fun but also interesting and educational.'