On Saturday 12th March, 80 students belonging to the Liverpool University Veterinary Zoological Society arrived bright and early by coach to Knowsley Safari Park. Preparations had been ongoing so we aimed to please. After a welcoming wake-up brew, and a brief introductory chat the group was split into 2. Two sets of activities were timetabled- including 2 lectures in the Safari School and the other around the Knowsley Reserve.
Students arrived at the Safari School and discovered delightful goody bags filled with gifts to remember the day, including a guidebook for information and essential student kit, pens and fridge magnets. Once settled the Knowsley Research and Conservation (R & C) team gave a short presentation explaining their role to promote R & C both at the Safari Park and further afield. Our vet, Jen Quayle, then delivered a talk explaining her role as a vet in the assistance with breeding programmes. Many questions ensued: ‘How to become a safari park vet?’, ‘interesting animal experiences?’ and ‘the use of medications comparable to those used for domestic species?’
After a short juice break, Lucy Boddam-Whetham, Acting Director of Save the Rhino, presented a video about Save the Rhinos work and a talk explaining the work undertaken by Save the Rhino- both fundraising and marketing plus directing funds to in-situ projects. By 12:30 a hungry bunch of students hit the Oasis Restaurant to munch their complimentary lunch. An hours free time allowed the opportunity to explore the woodland walk to try to spot Red Squirrels, and a mooch around the walkaround area plus a trip to the shop for souvenirs.
A guided Safari Drive introduced the world as keepers know it here at Knowsley. A chance to see our new Zebra group and all of the other safari beasts frolicking about….lions, baboons, white rhino and antelope. Finally, a visit to the elephant house to see the enrichment items we give to our elephants- giant footballs, puzzle feeders, and bales of sawdust to name a few. All designed to increase foraging time and encourage species-specific behaviours. Keepers then showed our guests our Protected Contact training wall, and explained how the training programme helps improve veterinary access. Of course a behind the scenes tour would be incomplete without meeting the elephants! All the students left with beaming smiles and elephant trunk slobber on their hands!
On behalf of Knowsley Safari Park and the Research and Conservation Team I say a massive thank you to Anna Jones and her colleagues that arranged the symposium. It was a pleasure to host such a fantastic event and meet an array of ambitious students eager to learn with their whole career ahead of them. We hope we were able to impart some of our knowledge to them and that we may see them again in the future for research projects or work experience placements.
Thanks to all the Knowsley Team who helped make the event possible, to Lucy for travelling from London and to BAYER Healthcare the LUVZS sponsor
Many thanks to the Research and Conservation team at Knowsley Safari Park for this blog entry.