I won a competition to be a Twycross Zoo Young Conservationist-in-Chief!
Twycross Zoo is a zoo near where I live. It’s got lots of endangered animals there like Amur leopards, gibbons, snow leopards and lemurs. It’s the only zoo in the UK that has all four types of great ape: gorillas, orang utans, chimpanzees and bonobos.
When I visited Twycross Zoo before I felt sad about how many of the animals there were endangered and I wrote an article about it.
Twycross Zoo works to help endangered animals by looking after them and breeding them until it’s safe for them to be released back into the wild. They also tell people about the problems for endangered animals and how they can help and they give money to help endangered animals in the wild. They also try to help by being environmentally friendly. For example, they only use foods with sustainable palm oil in their cafe, the cuddly toys in their shop are made from recycled plastic bottles, some of the rooms have lights with motion sensors to save electricity and most of the rubbish in their bins is recycled.
When I found out I had won the competition I felt really excited and proud. The prize was to have a special day out at the zoo with my brothers where they showed us around and talked to us about the animals and about helping wildlife and the planet, especially the rainforests.
There were five Young Conservationist-in-Chiefs altogether. At the start of the day we met the boss of Twycross Zoo, Dr Sharon Redrobe OBE, and she gave me a certificate.
We also met Finn, one of Twycross Zoo’s Discovery and Learning Rangers. He knew loads and loads about all the animals at Twycross Zoo.
First we went to see the orang utans, then the gibbons. The gibbons made loads of noise! They went “Woooooo-oooooo!” Then we went to see the chimpanzees. We met the chimpanzees’ keeper and learnt loads about them and we learnt all their names. I really liked William because he was cute and cheeky and he likes to pull faces at people! After the chimpanzees we went to see the gorillas. The big boss gorilla is called a silverback. The two youngest gorillas were eight and five, which is the same age as me and my brothers!
Next I got to feed the meerkats! There were meerkats running all around my feet! First they ate the easy to find food, then one of them found the food I’d thrown off to the left to make it harder for them to find and started to eat that.
After lunch we made some toys for the gibbons. We put some hay in some toilet rolls, then we hid sweet potato in the middle then put some more hay in until it was full. Then we put the toys into a bag that one of the keepers was holding. Then the keeper put it on the ceiling of the gibbons’ enclosures and the gibbons had to put their hands through to try and get the sweet potato out.
It’s important for the animals to have toys and challenges to stop them getting bored. I thought the gibbons were lovely. I like the way the swing around everywhere. I think it’s sad that they’re endangered and they’re losing their habitat in the wild.
After that, we had a talk about biodiversity in the rainforest and how we can help protect the planet, especially the rainforests. Lots of the endangered animals in the zoo come from rainforests but they are getting chopped down and the animals are losing their habitats. Rainforests are important because they produce lots of oxygen and give homes to loads of animals, even some which haven’t been discovered yet! Rainforests are being chopped down to clear space for monocrops like oil palm and grazing cows. The wood is getting used for things like paper and timber. We can help by only buying food and other things with sustainable or no palm oil, eating less meat and making sure paper is recycled or has an FSC logo which means it was produced sustainably. Wood needs to have an FSC logo too. We can also help by buying food with the Fairtrade logo to make sure people get paid a fair price for growing crops sustainably. Climate change is making more and more forest fires happen so we can help by reducing our carbon footprint, for example by trying to use less electricity and trying to use the car less if you can.
Next we had a walk around the zoo with Finn and he told us about all the animals. I was given a chimpanzee adoption for a present and I decided to adopt William!
My Young Conservationist-in-Chief visit to Twycross Zoo was incredible. I loved it all! It made me feel like I want to help wildlife and the planet EVEN more!