Saturday, 30 April 2016

Z is for Zoo trips

Welcome to my posts for the A to Z Challenge 2016.
This year, I am posting 
Special School Stories
 tales from either my time as a teacher or teaching assistant within classrooms in the U.K. or from my own school days growing up around the country.

So a big cheer and a huge sigh of relief (for many) as we post our final letter today. 
Well Done - we've made it!

It always seemed to be that a number of classes would group together in the younger years to arrange a visit to a local “good” zoo for children to see the animals.  By “good” zoo I mean one where animals were well catered for in large outdoor enclosures more like their natural habitats rather than in concrete pits or cages.

Zoo trips were always full of awe and wonder.  Seeing an elephant up close is an amazing experience as is looking up and up at a tall giraffe.  Often some of the quietest children come into their own as out of their mouths tumble facts, interesting questions and their joy at being with so many different creatures.

Even when it is a wet day zoo trips can be such a worthwhile experience.  On one trip, when we had just disembarked from the coach and made our way to the monkey sanctuary, in the pouring rain, we were lucky enough to witness a mother orangutan take a piece of tarpaulin in her enclosure and use it to wrap around herself and her baby.  As she tucked it carefully around the head of her infant, I have never felt so close to our ape like ancestry.

Nowadays wristbands are worn by the children should they become separated from their specific group as we wander around the zoos.  School uniform helps but when lots of schools are out and about you always find a number in the same colour as your own school.  On one zoo visit, I felt a small hand reach into my own as we peered into one of the enclosures.  I turned to the child thinking they might need reassurance if the animal startled them to find myself smiling into the face of a child dressed in a similar uniform but with a face I had never seen before.  She smiled happily back but I went into panic mode desperately searching for another school group with the same uniform which luckily I saw down at the enclosure we had just come from.  Quick head count of my group – just in case we had “swapped” and my group headed over to return the pupil – much to the relief of that teacher.

Zoo trip days can be long and the singing on the coach back is always a little less as children fall asleep or chat to each other about the day’s events but, as school trips for pleasure for everyone, I think they are still number one!

Can you remember visiting the zoo with your class?  Did you ever help out as a parent on school trips?  Which animal is a favourite at the zoo for you?  I'm looking forward to reading all of your comments and now that the Challenge is at an end I will take the time to visit and say thank you to everyone who commented on my blog during the whole of this A-Z Challenge :)


  1. Congratulations on reaching Z!

    I can't remember any Zoo trips, I enjoyed London visits when I was in primary school though. I do remember being taken to Slimbridge Bird Sanctuary and being bored rigid and quite annoyed I'd had to go and couldn't stay at school!

    Mars xx
    @TrollbeadBlog from
    Curling Stones for Lego People

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  3. Excellent job. Zoo trips were always fabulous and still are. We have nice zoos in Dallas and Ft worth. Always love primates and keen on penguins.
    Congrats on a job well done. Your love of teaching and students shone through. Lucky kids!

  4. I never visited a zoo way back when I went to school! I so much enjoyed your challenge. Congratulations on making it all the way from A to Z!

  5. We visited a zoo when I was in grade school, but I can't remember a thing about it. Congratulations on completing the challenge!

  6. I chaperoned a school trip to the Bronx Zoo and worried the whole time that I would lose sight of one of the children! Not a relaxing day....

    Yvonne V

  7. I liked going to the zoo. I can imagine that feeling of panic when you found the child that wasn't from your group. Glad that got straightened out okay. Congrats on finishing A to Z!!

  8. Zoos are always fun! I loved your story about the mama sweet.
    Congrats on surviving the challenge! Thanks for all the visits to my blog. I enjoyed your stories about the time you spent as a teacher.
    I'll see you around Pempi!

  9. Aloha Pempi,

    Honolulu has a zoo, but I don't recall going there on a field trip. I think it's a relatively "good" zoo. What a panic to find another student in the same color uniform! Maui Jungalow

  10. I live near the "Safari/Wild Animal Park" in San Diego County. Each year my class would take a field trip there. I, too, "lost" a child, who had ducked back into the petting enclosure when we left. Panic. Found her in minutes, but...