When I was a kid I was obsessed with animals, so much so that I would joyfully pounce on any orphaned/injured animal that I came across, with the aim of releasing them back into the wild later. Cut to 30 years on and I have a child that shares the exact same passions as me, so I knew we couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to be a Wildlife Junior Keeper for the day at the Port Douglas Wildlife Habitat. Caring for the animals is just one reason to get your kids involved in the program. Here’s 5 more…..
I’ve yet to meet a kid that doesn’t like spending a day at a Zoo, and in this case the Port Douglas Wildlife Habitat is a very special kind of zoo. The animals here are pretty much allowed to free-roam (with the exception of the crocodiles and snakes) and some will even join you if you decide to stay and dine (Breakfast with the Birds and Picnic with the Parrots).
Most parents these days would be pushed to devote more than 4 hours of their time at a Zoo but that’s exactly what the Wildlife Junior Keepers program does – it keeps the kids happy and occupied and hanging out in a place they love for most of the day.
Animals are a great opportunity to teach kids respect. And respect for other creatures will help build empathy and connection to the natural world. In my eyes Connection = Protection (and so say a lot of researchers) – what better thing for parents is there, than to help raise a conservationist into the world.
The animals at the Wildlife Habitat are humanised to a point BUT essentially they are still wild creatures. Handling these animals takes skill and patience and it was great to see how staff taught the kids to be still and calm when they were near the animals.
Feeding cassowaries has never been on our ‘to do’ list as a family so I was pleased to hear that the kids finally had the opportunity to feed some fruit to one of these large birds. You’ll be pleased to know however, that the crocodile and pelican feeding was left solely to the experts, although the Junior Wildlife Keepers did have the best seats in the house when it came to watching. View a short 30-sec video of feeding time at the Zoo below…….
Throwing sardines out to the Black Stork’s and other waterbirds was also a highlight for my kids. It’s just a shame that I can’t get the same level of enthusiasm when I ask them to feed the dog or the birds back at home.
It may not have been obvious to the kids but they were getting taught all day. The staff were regularly peppering their wildlife facts with questions for their Junior Keepers and it was evident by the answers that the kids were soaking it all in.
They were also taken behind the scenes into the ‘special care’ ward where orphans were being raised, new animals were being introduced and some sick critters where getting some extra special care. It definitely gave my kids the sense that there were many ways in which they could help native wildlife.
Terrible isn’t it but my kids are fully aware that ‘School Holiday Programs’ equate to a form of child care during their school break. If you are up in Port Douglas its not a bad thing to want some adult time (after all there are sooo many yummy restaurants to choose from) and the Junior Wildlife Keeper is a great opportunity to say goodbye, and give yourself some kid-free time.
It was the one activity that I’ve booked them into that they didn’t believe there was an ulterior motive, they seriously thought it was all about them…….and it was, of course. 😉
Good Things to Know:
Have you visited the Port Douglas Wildlife Habitat yet? Have your kids been involved in a similar Wildlife Junior Keepers program before?
Click HERE if you would like to Book >> Junior Keeper program at Port Douglas Wildlife Habitat.