Zoos SA – a long standing partnership

Zoos SA is a conservation charity with more than 45,000 members. ‘We are a long established and treasured part of the South Australian community, having shared the wonder of our zoos since 1883.’

Adelaide Zoo is a relaxing green city oasis and vibrant sanctuary that gives you the feeling of stepping into another world. It’s full of diversity, colour and unique things to see and do. It offers an intimate zoo experience speckled with elements of curiosity, fantasy, fun and surprise. Also operated by Zoos SA, Monarto Safari Park is Australia’s largest open range zoo.

A Longstanding Partnership

Partners since 2014, Zoos SA and Children’s University (CU) have been working together to bring members and families exciting, high quality and engaging learning activities. An important objective of CU is to facilitate learning outside of the classroom within safe and stimulating environments. By emphasising experience as an important learning tool, CU recognises and rewards the value of different learning experiences, experiences that give children aspirations for their own future.

It is the aim of CU to promote a love of lifelong learning through community engagement, with a particular focus on children from disadvantaged backgrounds, such as those in rural and remote locations, Indigenous communities, and lower socio-economic metropolitan areas.

We are therefore delighted to have the support of Zoos SA.

From the outset, Zoos SA has supported CU members financially by extending their reduced entrance fee (offered to as sites who fall within Department of Education and Child Development (DECD) categories 1 to 4 and equivalent Independent and Catholic schools determined by Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority to all CU members because CU continues to preference and support low socioeconomic sites.

Set within eight hectares of beautiful botanic surrounds, validated activities at Zoos SA range from Animal Feeding and Keeper Talks to thrilling ZooSnooze sleepovers that share the wonder of more than 3,000 exotic and native wildlife.

School Holiday Programs and Zoos SA

School Holiday Programs are something else we take seriously. Not only do we support and promote programs developed by Public Learning Destination partners, we also love working together to create joint events.

In 2014 we piloted CU engagement with Zoos SA by running school holiday programs. CU school holiday programs are targeted towards DECD category 1-3 schools. As distance and easy access to the city centre is often a barrier to engaging low socioeconomic status groups, Higher Education Participation and Partnerships funding is used to provide transport to allow participants to access the programs. An element of the program always involves engagement with the University – either its campuses, staff or students, or a combination of the three.

As the University’s North Terrace campus is located in the cultural precinct of the city centre, it is also easy to involve many of the CU validated Public Learning Destinations as part of the program. This is a mutually beneficial arrangement, as many of these organisations also wish to have greater engagement with visitors from areas of economic disadvantage, as does Zoos SA.

The initial program involved CU members in existing Zoos SA activities- the keeper talks and animal experiences. These were partnered with the delivery of a lecture ‘Animals’ Extreme’ at the University of Adelaide campus by a University of Adelaide academic. In the second program, the newly developed ‘CU at the Zoo’ scientific observation activity was piloted prior to being launched in January 2015.

CU at the Zoo

Following the successful pilot in the school holiday program, CU at the Zoo was promoted as an independent learning activity for CU members on both the CU website and the dedicated CU section of the Zoos SA website. The activity consists of 12 specially developed ethogram activity sheets featuring animals at the Zoo, enabling CU members to complete true to life animal observations, record their findings and find out more about the animals as part of an extension activity. This bespoke activity is offered by the Zoo in addition to their existing activities which are also validated as CU learning.

This engagement model was replicated when Monarto Zoo, also part of Zoos SA, became a CU Public Learning Destination in 2017

CU at the Zoo on line

Committed to supporting our Public Learning Destination partners, CU helped establish a network of cameras that now allow CU members to view animals in a livestream that operates 24 hours a day and to conduct scientific animal observations from the comfort of their home.

Funded through a collaborative project between the University of Adelaide, University of Wollongong and the University of Tasmania, it was developed as an activity for CU members in regional/remote areas.

Building on the CU at the Zoo activities and using cutting-edge technology, cameras were set up in five native animal enclosures. This has allowed children and their families unique access to the Zoo.

This is especially important for CU members living in regional areas of Australia and overseas. By ensuring fair and free access to a wide variety of high-quality online activities, CU supports those members by offering them greater opportunities to connect with and be inspired by education.

It is something we continue to develop through our CU Student Portal.

Collaboration is the Key

In 2016, CU and Zoos SA participated in the Open State Festival, a festival of innovation, collaboration, ideas and enterprise run in partnership with the Department of Premier and Cabinet. Zoos SA was one of eight Public Learning Destinations that invited groups of CUA members to work with their executive team to develop a 30 year plan for each organisation. The final plan was then presented to the executive team and CU participants invited to a question and answer session at the Festival Centre and presentation event at Government House.

Elaine Bensted, Chief Executive Zoos SA, has been an active member of the CU Advisory Board since CU’s inception in 2013.