Virtual zoos and animal bake-off among highlights at college conservation event

STUDENTS used animal instincts to design and create virtual zoos and conservation parks for a leading college programme.

Second year Level 3 Animal Management learners from Coleg Cambria Northop began the project this academic year and wowed judges with their dedication and research.

The showcase of their work culminated in a day of celebrations which included guest speakers, a Great Animal Bake-Off and a series of presentations from past learners and industry experts.

The winning zoo was produced by Ella Bielby who went above and beyond to ‘build’ Fennix Zoo, focusing on conservation, collection planning of different species – how threatened they are in the wild, conservation and education – inclusivity and future proofing.

Along with other members of the cohort she also produced a comprehensive website, social media channel and interactive walk-through of the site, all via Minecraft.

“This was a fun way to learn about what it takes to build a zoo and as it’s more visual it made it easier to take in the information,” said Ella, from Northop.

“I enjoyed every aspect of it and am really thrilled to have won first prize.”

Ella’s hard work was rewarded with two tickets to Chester Zoo. Bake-Off winner Sophie Franks, who created a spectacular frog cake, also received a pair of tickets to the attraction, whose Assistant Team Manager for Schools Engagement Ed Boyd was among the judges in attendance.

He said: “It’s been impressive, especially how holistic all their ideas have been, really looking at things like the zoo set-up, marketing, accessibility, education and so many different elements.

“Also, the visitor experience and conservation, which are vital – they did a great job!”

Animal Management Lecturer Stephanie Davies added: “This was such an interesting module for the students but also so important as it allowed them to explore every aspect of their second-year zoo module, from collection planning to visitor needs and expectations, health and safety, accessibility and more.

“They really took ownership of it and did a fantastic job, looking in-depth at not only the physical aspects of the zoo – the facilities, access, layout, and enclosures – but the types of animals and species that would inhabit it.

“The project was introduced and trialled this academic year to help them apply their theory learning from the Zoological Collections unit, which has helped them to better prepare for their main exam and synoptic assessments.

“I am so proud of them, the students did a remarkable job, and I would like to thank them and all of the special guests, speakers and everyone in attendance on the day for their support.”

Among the other speakers were Shannon Costin, ex-Chester Zoo Events Ranger, Emilie Pearson, Collections Moves Assistant at the Natural History Museum in London, and past learners Anna Grimaldi-Hill, Erin Crawford, Olivia Kinsey, and Holly Jacobs, who discussed their lives and careers after college, providing valuable insight into possible career paths.

The Great Animal Bake-Off raised £25, to be donated to Jackson’s Animal Rescue.

The zoo competition was also entered by Cerys Bennett, who finished second, and Jen Barlow, John Moffat and Annabel Stewart, who came in joint third place.

Visit for more on Animal Management and the latest news and information from Coleg Cambria.

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