BLACKPOOL ZOO SCOOPS TOP BIAZA AWARD

Blackpool Zoo scooped one of the top accolades from the zoo world at the prestigious British & Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) awards 2010. Its unique Zoo Keeper Academy was named Best Education Project in the schools and educational establishments category, beating off stiff competition from attractions across the UK. The 10 day course, which is the brainchild of Blackpool Zoo’s Head of Education, Sarah Thomas, is aimed at young people aged 15-17 who wish to pursue a career working with animals. It covers basic theory and includes practical, hands on tasks and experience with some of the zoo’s favourite residents. Throughout the course students complete an evidence portfolio with the help of the education team at the zoo, which can be used to enhance applications to college and university courses or jobs. The BIAZA awards, which have been held annually for over a decade, recognise outstanding contributions and achievements in the fields of wildlife conservation, advances in animal welfare and husbandry, marketing, PR, education, research and enclosure design. Dr Miranda Stevenson, Director of BIAZA, said: “The award-winning programmes showcased at the ceremony demonstrate the huge investment of energy and resources made by our leading zoos to improve animal welfare and raise environmental awareness. “These awards recognise and celebrate the vital contributions that our members are making to conservation and education each year. Equally, they are standard bearers for excellence in animal husbandry and welfare. We congratulate all the winners on their achievement.” Jude Rothwell, Marketing and PR Coordinator at Blackpool Zoo, said: “It is fantastic that the Zoo Keeper Academy received the recognition it deserves at the BIAZA awards. “Since its launch in January 2010, it has been growing in popularity and the courses over the summer were sold out long before the holidays started. “We are immensely proud of our education team here at Blackpool Zoo and it is wonderful to know that BIAZA has identified them as one of the best in the country.” Sarah Thomas, Head of Education at Blackpool Zoo, concluded: “I was delighted to accept the award on behalf of the zoo. “Delivering the Zoo Keeper Academy is something the whole team thoroughly enjoy and we have had the pleasure of working with students that have extremely promising future careers in working with animals.” -ends- Notes to the Editor: More information about Blackpool Zoo Blackpool Zoo is owned by Parques Reunidos, the second largest European leisure parks operator and a leading world wide player. It is home to over 1,500 mammals, birds, reptiles and invertebrates set amidst thirty-two acres of mature woodland and lakes. The zoo’s signature animals include elephants, giraffes, big cats, gorillas, orangutans, sea lions, primates, zebras and kangaroos. www.blackpoolzoo.org.uk More information about BIAZA The British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) is a conservation education and scientific wildlife charity, which acts as the principal professional zoo body representing the responsible zoo and aquarium community in the UK and Ireland. With about 100 members, its role is to develop and spread best practice within the UK and international zoo community, combining lobbying and campaigning with the development of policy in collaboration with the government and scientific organizations. Over the last 12 months, BIAZA members have supported around 700 projects by providing financial support in excess of £9 million and by supplying skills, staff and equipment for conservation programmes worldwide. www.biaza.org.uk More information about the award - Best Education Project: schools and educational institutions Award: Blackpool Zoo: Blackpool Zookeeper Academy: Unique 10 day course aimed at young people aged 15-17 who wish to pursue a career working with animals, covering a wide range of zoo species. Commendations: • Bristol Zoo Gardens: Prickly tales and foxy fables - celebrating biodiversity through storytelling and art: working together to help a group of children learn about biodiversity by exploring the wildlife of their local green space and communicating what they had learnt through storytelling and art. • RZSS Edinburgh Zoo: RZSS Wild Bus: The bus set out with the objectives of reaching 100 schools, some in remoter parts of Scotland, to deliver hands-on rainforest focused lessons for all ages; and to raise the profile of RZSS in its centenary year. Small Collection Award: Shepreth Wildlife Park: The Natural World (Education Session): The free of charge session incorporates animal encounters with rescue hedgehogs from the rehabilitation unit and a variety of invertebrates, owls and reptiles to promote an understanding of the natural world.

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