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ZSL Whipsnade Zoo finds novel way to reach out to younger visitors Posted On 29 January 2021

Virtual bedtime stories read by keepers… with a little help from the animals


Imagine if The Tiger Who Came To Tea also stuck around for a bedtime story. And what if another popular children’s book, The Slightly Annoying Elephant, could be read in the company of some real elephants?

That’s the wild scenario in prospect as Tails From The Zoo airs on Whipsnade Zoo’s Facebook page over the next few weekends until Sunday, February 21st.

The brainchild of keepers at ZSL Whispnade and London Zoos, the idea behind the virtual bedtime stories is for staff to maintain links between the animals and younger visitors during the third lockdown to hit the sites in the past year.

So, Tails From The Zoo started in mid-January, encouraging youngsters to watch a different animal-inspired story online every Saturday and Sunday evening at 6.30pm.

The animals are very much at the heart of the sessions. For example, Judith Kerr’s timeless classic The Tiger Who Came To Tea was read in the company of Sumatran tigers Asim and Gasha while David Walliams’ The Slightly Annoying Elephant will come from Whipsnade’s Centre for Elephant Care.

The short season opened with Julia Donaldson’s What The Ladybird Heard, with Yoda, the white-cheeked gibbon paying rapt attention, and zookeeper Sam Aberdeen told The Bucks Herald: “We came up with the idea because lots of us have our own children who love to listen to our own tales from the zoo.

“It’s a tough time for the zoo – as it is for so many others – and this felt like a fun way to reach out to all the children we miss seeing here.

“We have loved doing it, and we hope children will enjoy hearing their favourite stories and seeing the real animals at the same time. And, of course, we hope it might spur people who can to donate a little bit to help secure the zoos’ future.”

James Wren, ZSL’s director of engagement and fundraising, was quoted as saying: “Our gates are currently closed to the public, but life goes on behind the scenes caring for our animals, and the zookeepers have found a great way to bring our zoos to our youngest supporters and hopefully give parents up and down the country a little break at bedtime too.”

The international conservation charity, ZSL, has more than 20,000 animals to care for, and is facing major financial pressures after having to close its doors for the third time in a year. Income from visits to their sites in London and Whispnade is vital and anyone who wishes to make a donation should go to https://donate.zsl.org/donations


Image credit ZSL Whipsnade Zoo; https://www.facebook.com/zslwhipsnadezoo

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