How Vandalur Zoo's summer camp for children is keeping them busy this summer

The innovative method stems from the idea that children will be occupied, while trying to educate them

author_img Nascimento Pinto Published :  20th April 2018 06:00 AM   |   Published :   |  20th April 2018 06:00 AM

Mohan Prasath with the child ambassadors | Sunish Surendran

There is no denying that the sweltering heat of summer's here and while everybody is busy trying to beat it, 1,505-acre Vandalur Zoo has started a summer camp to encourage school-going children to become ‘Zoo Ambassadors’ and spread the word about conservation among their peers.

The innovative method stems from the idea that will keep the children occupied while trying to educate them about the 173 species and 2,500 animals at the zoo over the course of four days, every week. With each day assigned to a specific animal of the food kingdom and an expert from the field, Arignar Anna Zoological Park or Vandalur Zoo as it is more popularly called is hosting the camp for a whole month in five batches.

The summer camp also acting as a zoo tour aims to help children get a deeper understanding of all animals in the food chain.“We thought the children will be the right medium who will help us spread information about forest and conservation of animals”, S Sudha, Deputy Director of Arignar Zoo said. The deputy director also added that the program is hoping to make children share the knowledge with their parents, friends and everybody in their neighbourhood. 

The ambassadors have already seemed to pique the interest of their parents, who say they had actually sent them for the camp just to keep them away from technology while also learning something new. T. Ramanan, one of the parents with a child-like enthusiasm said, “My daughter actually came home one of these days and surprised me by telling me the actual weight of a lion, which I previously thought to be something else.” The 45-year-old IT sector employee said the summer camp actually helped him learn specific facts about animals like weight, height and agility among other things, that he doesn't remember paying attention to in his younger days.

WATCH: Vandalur Zoo in Chennai has a summer camp for children with a unique initiative

If parents voiced the over-excitement outside the zoo, the children were a loud bunch on the inside, eager to answer any question thrown at them. Every time Tamil Nadu-based bird and butterfly expert Mohan Prasath threw questions like "What is the butterfly majorly found in Tamil Nadu? "Joker butterfly" pat came the reply in unison from the children. 30-year-old Mohan, who runs a Facebook group Act for Butterflies, along with other enthusiasts, has been a bird watcher since his college days. He moved to documenting butterflies a little over eight years ago and has been studying them as a hobby ever since.

The curious children aged 11 and 12-years-old whose favourite animals ranging from giraffes to cheetahs may not know about endangered species just yet but are on track to start conserving in every way they can. The camp has already made them better informed one of the many learnings are to not catch butterflies and instead leave them in their natural habitat. The program is conducted in a batch of 30 students over four days emphasizing on Mammals, Reptiles, Birds and Butterflies.The children leave with a more conservative approach towards nature for the future.