On the 2nd October 2021, a group of 13 young people who attend the Trading Card Group on a Thursday went on a day trip to the Welsh Mountain Zoo at Colwyn Bay. The participants were of mixed ages ranging from 13yrs to 23 years. The group chose to attend the Welsh Mountain Zoo even though there is a range of much larger zoos closer to Liverpool because of their keen interest in learning about conservation; the Welsh Mountain Zoo has an agenda to promote the conservation of animals.
The purpose of this day trip was to celebrate the new friendships that have been formed within the Trading Card Group and treat ourselves to an excursion having had very few opportunities to ‘explore’ while adhering to lockdown restrictions. Before Covid, a sub-team of the Trading Card Group was setting up social action projects centred around the conservation of our local environments. This day trip will act as a trigger to reignite the Trading Card Groups conversations about local conversation issues for consideration of social action projects.
On arrival, we had an hour to look around before we headed for our first workshop. We all agreed to stay together and took some time to look at the Meerkats, Ostriches, and Spider Monkeys, to name a few. The first workshop was delivered by one of the senior staff members where they gave us information on the type of diet the chimps have and the importance of making all animals experience in the zoo as close as possible to how it would be in the wild. The young people worked in pairs putting nuts, seeds and wood shavings into cloth pouches. We made our way to the enclosure, where we threw them over the fence. Some of the young people mentioned that it was interesting to see how there is a hierarchy when it comes to food, as one chimp had a dozen pouches!
The second workshop was a tour around the zoo and information about conservation and the species which zoos in the UK have built conservation projects around, such as Red Squirrels, Snow Leopards and Red Pandas. Some feedback from the young people was that this was very educational. This was evident as they asked lots of questions, including potential careers in animal conservation and rehabilitation.
“My favourite part of the day was learning about how zoos work together to increase conservation. I also enjoyed feeding the chimps and seeing which one was the boss.” Young participant aged 19 years.
After a final visit to see the camels and seals, we made some time for the young people to get anything they wanted from the gift shop and made way to the next part of our day: Pizza Express. Naturally, this was a hit as all the young people (and staff) got a well needed pick me up ready to watch the film. The budget worked out well for the meal, as everyone was well fed and a lot of the young people brought money with them to buy snacks and drinks for the film.
Once we checked into the Odeon, the young people grabbed any snacks and drinks they wanted, and we made our way into the room. There was a slight issue with seating as there weren’t any seat numbers on the tickets in a packed theatre, meaning we had to move, but this was resolved quickly with the usher before the film started. The young people enjoyed the film, although some mentioned it was longer than they anticipated and would have liked to have been notified of this time beforehand. All in all, it was a jam-packed day full of education and lots of fun. All young people got home safely either by parents or carers. In summary, making sure seat numbers are provided for cinema trips and perhaps splitting the group into one side who want to explore every inch of the zoo, and another who wants a more educational experience could be noted for future trips for an even more smooth and enjoyable day for all.