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Zoolab UK Review: Remote Animal Encounters

Anna McCallum reviews her recent experience of a Zoolab UK remote animal encounter, sharing her thoughts and feelings on meeting a farrago of tropical friends, from Rosie the tarantula to Mike the cockroach.

Are you looking for an adventure? Well look no further than Zoolab UK! If you don’t They provide educational animal encounters, consisting of immersive yet informative storytelling, bringing adults and young children face-to-face with a variety of exotic creatures.

I’ll be frank; I had marvellous time! The experience was genuinely one of the most interesting events I have attended in a long time. I concede that much of that time has been locked indoors due to the pandemic, but even Covid-aside, this was a lot of fun and extremely informative. I would strongly recommend anyone who works with children or has their own children to give one of their in-person or their remote sessions a go.

Our journey began with Georgie as our guide, explaining the treacherous route to the Amazon rainforest, describing it in engaging detail. They covered the different modes of transport that would be needed get there in such a way that you could really visualise being there.

Once our imaginary journey was over and we had ‘arrived’ at our destination, the first animal was introduced: a giant white snail called Bryan. After learning how he has 10,000 teeth on his tongue and a few other facts about his life (no Life of Brian puns please!), the journey continued with Rosie the tarantula. We were surprised to learn despite having 8 eyes, she is actually quite short sighted, and also flicks the hairs of her body to deter predators.

Continuing our trek into a cave, Mike the cockroach made an appearance. He was endearingly described as the “dustpan and brush” of the natural world, as opposed to a more brutal assessment of “he just eats poop”. Poop or no poop, it was fascinating to learn about the role cockroaches play in recycling and resetting the natural cycle.

We were then introduced to Jeremy the tree frog, who amazed us with the way he uses his eyes to help him swallow (yes you read that right – Frogs use their eyes to squeeze food down!), and how he can absorb water through his stomach.

The final creature to come into view was Hunter the snake, who has more than double the number of bones humans have and constricts his prey before swallowing them whole. Hunter was the last of our ‘visits’, and we said goodbye to each of our tropical friends before our return ‘journey’ from the heart of the rainforest.

My brief summary does not do it any justice as the experience was a perfect balance of the informative and the delightful. I can confidently say I learned a great deal from the series of encounters, and let out no shortage of laughs along the way too.

All of the children joining the experience were completely hooked from start to finish, their curiosity holding them captive throughout the entire journey. Our guide really did strike a perfect balance between age groups, topics of interest and accessibility.

The story telling was performed by Georgie in an engaing and interactive way, allowing the children to get involved at every stage; the joy of the event was, surprisingly, in no way compromised by the digital aspect of the session. They were also given the chance to further their learning by asking any questions at the end of the encounter and all enjoyed the age-appropriate humour that was sprinkled throughout.

The digital adaptation of their business works incredibly well, allowing you to learn about nature from the comfort of your own home, within a classroom, or even from the other side of the planet! Zoolab can tailor their activities to meet many needs and industries, from early years settings and schools, to parties, animal therapy, childminders, residential homes, libraries, offices and more. With the prospect of re-opening getting nearer (at time of going to rpress July 19), they will soon be able to offer face to face sessions again, as well as keeping the option of distance learning. Zoolab UK are aware of curriculum outcomes and so are an ideal event to hold in any educational setting, as they cater to many different ages, and requirements such as early years, primary, secondary, SEN and STEM.

Zoolab were keen to emphasise that they are also passionate about the ethical care of their animals and the safety of their customers, with many risk assessments being available on their website. Also on their website are a variety of useful resources, from fun colouring pages to educational posters, to predesigned party invitations. They are also active conservationists and have raised a substantial amount of money to assist with anti-poaching efforts in Africa.

All in all, they provided an extraordinary experience that brought me genuine joy, an experience that any child or adult can simultaneously learn a lot from and enjoy. They came across at every stage of my encounter as a respectful, innovative, and caring company who show genuine compassion for the animals in their care and for animals around the world.

A big fat ‘highly recommended’ from me!