The enrichment group went to the zoo… but why?
The enrichment group has been learning about the environment and how to make the earth a healthier place. Some of the things we have learnt about include how we can help the environment, and how bad choices can affect the ecosystem.
We decided to go to Wellington Zoo as we felt this would help us discover some things about New Zealand’s environment and ecosystems. One of the first things when we did when we arrived was to search for insects. We got into groups of 2 or 3 people, got a small shovel, something to hold bugs, and a magnifying glass. Then we had to dig around in the dirt and look under rocks to try and find and identify different bugs and insects. We were surprised by how many different insects we found in a small area.
Then we moved on to a plant identification challenge, where we each got a list of plants we had to find. We looked for native plants including: hebe, kowhai and lemonwood. We also looked for plants that aren’t natives. These included ivy, bamboo and wattle. The challenge was finding and identifying the plants. I did ok on that part though, but my Mum helped because her Dad used to be a forest ranger, so she could give me tips.
The next activity was thinking about ecosystems and life chains. We each got a different item: a bug, a lizard, a plant or a bird. Then we had to make a connection between different things using a length of rope.
Here’s an example of a life chain we did: insects eat plants, plants are homes for birds, birds eat insects. This showed us that you need different life forms to make the earth go round. We need different life forms so we can live a normal life. If we take away something from our ecosystem it could muck everything up.
We talked about what happened in China when the Chinese president at the time, Mao Zedong, decided he wanted to kill all the sparrows. But that made a major change in the environment - when they got rid of all the sparrows, there were more insects including locusts. The insects ate lots of plants, so the plants and trees died. They realised that the locusts were even worse than the sparrows.
The moral of that tale is one life form is needed to make another life form work. You need to be aware that things in the environment keep you alive… So remember, sometimes your actions have an impact.
After lunch we were split into groups to look around the zoo. First stop… the dreaded Keas. Me and my friend sprinted through because we don’t like birds. Next stop, the tiger, which was pacing up and down like a prisoner and the sunbathing sunbears.
We walked up the hill to the giraffe, which came really close and stared at us. Then we went to see the chimps, and saw the annoying teenage chimp trying to evade capture by his elders, but he got caught eventually. Later we went to look at the magnificent cheetahs, who came rather close to where we were standing.
Then came the best part - the adorable red pandas. Often when I have been to the zoo they have been tucked away and hard to see, but for once we saw the red panda out of the tree and moving around, before climbing the tree and going to hide.
We had a fun day and learnt a lot about the environment and wildlife.