by Christine Bowie
The TSA India team, along with the Lucknow and Kanpur Zoos, recently launched a comprehensive pilot program for zoo volunteers. The initiative was aimed at improving conservation education and animal awareness among zoo guests and also included a program to prepare participants for a possible future in the management of zoo animal collections.
Launched in January, the team began by advertising for applicants in newspapers and on local radio stations. Within a short period of time, the team received more than 730 phone calls and 3,000 applications! Once selected, the participants underwent a one day orientation session during which the program was outlined, schedules were reviewed, resource materials were distributed, and staff and volunteers got to know each other.
Over the course of six months, volunteers and guests engaged in 53 formal events and over 900 informal interactions! These fun-filled, educational events consisted of wildlife conservation slogan writing, children’s painting contests, a staged performance on World Wildlife Day and a No Plastic Day campaign, to name a few.
The Zoo Volunteer Program in its pilot phase was a huge hit, with great positive feedback from the community. The program leaders hope that a successful Zoo Volunteer Program (ZVP) based on this model can become a regular feature of zoos in the region with assistance of the TSA India team!