x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Al Ain Zoo allows children to try zookeeper's job for a day

An educational programme at Al Ain Zoo allows children to help care for the animals.

As part of its summer camp, Al Ain Zoo has organised zookeeper sessions for children.
As part of its summer camp, Al Ain Zoo has organised zookeeper sessions for children.

AL AIN // Children are becoming zookeepers for a day, caring for the needs of monkeys, penguins and other animals.

Children aged 4 to 14 are being shown the daily routines of the park's zookeepers as part of Al Ain Zoo's summer camp and community education programme.

By feeding animals and cleaning their enclosures, 50 children have so far gained an insight into the zoo's inner workings.

"We want to teach the children about the local wildlife in the UAE and how best to care for them, and there is no better way to do this than by getting them actively involved in the day-to-day tasks of an animal keeper," said Muna Al Dhaheri, the manager of the zoo's education centre.

Ms Al Dhaheri said the scheme, in English and Arabic, was an introduction to future careers for the older children.

She said it acquainted them with key people including the zoo's veterinarian and nutritionist.

"It is important the children understand the significance of the animals' welfare," she said.

As part of the day-long session, the children make cooling, fruity ice pops and fish ice cubes, which are fed to the monkeys, penguins and African wild dogs as part of the zoo's animal enrichment programme.

The programme aims to make the creatures' enclosures as stimulating for them as possible. It emphasises changing their environments and diets as a part of daily activities, organisers say.